Canada Now Requires Masks When Traveling By Air

Filed Under: Air Canada, WestJet

You can now add Canada to the list of countries requiring passengers to travel with face masks.

Canada’s Minister of Transport has announced some new travel restrictions that kick in as of 12PM EDT on Monday, April 20, 2020. Essentially this requires all air passengers to have a non-medical mask or face covering (to cover their nose and mouth) during travel. Passengers need to bring their own protective gear, or else they won’t be allowed to travel.

With these new restrictions:

  • At Canadian airport security checkpoints, passengers will be asked to wear a mask, since screeners can’t always keep two meters of separation between themselves and travelers
  • Passengers on all flights departing or arriving at Canadian airports will be required to demonstrate that they have a non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process, or else they won’t be allowed to continue on their journey
  • Passengers will be asked to wear a mask or face covering when they can’t physically distance from others, so presumably this includes when you’re on a full flight

Passengers may need to wear masks on full flights

As the Minister of Transport explains, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering over the mouth and nose is another way to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces, which is why this policy is being implemented.

Masks will be needed at Canadian security checkpoints

Bottom line

Canada is now requiring airline passengers to travel with face masks. They only consistently need to be worn at security, while onboard planes they need to be worn when social distancing isn’t possible.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what the future of air travel will look like, and whether wearing masks may just eventually become a standard part of the flying experience.

What do you make of the requirement to wear masks — would you like to see a policy like this expanded?

  1. I am … somewhat amazed at a “Western” country making “non-medical masks or face coverings “mandatory” in specific situations. I realise this is Canada and not one of the European countries where masks and face-coverings have been banished. I would be really curious if this happens with any of the European airlines where there is actual legislation banning this kind of thing. One of the most significant arguments against those bans was precisely this kind of situation (and for people with chronic illnesses). The desire to discriminate against religious face coverings impacted medical needs.

    And now this? Specifically “non-medical masks and face-coverings”? Just wow.

    It is worth noting that the laws do have exceptions for medical usage. But given that this specifically states “non-medical and face-coverings” – that’s either going to be a disaster with semantics or someone will find a way to make this a huge deal.

  2. Another reason not to fly Air Canada. (And I live in Canada)

    My preference is to just not fly until this virus is over. I wear a mask when I’m out doing my once-a-week shopping and I feel claustrophobic with it on. I can’t wait to get home and take it off. To wear one for hours in an airport and throughout a flight? No thanks. I understand the reason, I just don’t want to have to do that. So I won’t travel if a mask is necessary.

  3. I dont see how this will work in reality. What happens in this scenario –
    you’re on a full flight, social distancing cant be maintained and you’re thirsty and hungry. Does this mean you’re not allowed to take your mask off?

  4. @Ian
    Yup, on international flights to Asia today, most people do not take off ppe/mask for the entire duration of 12+hours.

    So does the FAs, they also do not take off the ppe.

  5. I’m surprised there’s been no mention anywhere that I have seen about the problems these mandatory mask requirements cause for deaf & hard of hearing who rely on lip reading.

  6. I thought I read somewhere that you are not supposed to wear a mask while sleeping as it can affect your breathing. Does that mean no sleeping during the flight?

  7. Home made masks a complete waste of time and false reassurance, good news only for terrorists.

  8. I guess it comes down to Canada doing whatever they can to keep their citizens healthy, and alive. All levels of governments are working together, using science, available resources and compassion, to do the best they can with a situation that changes daily. There is no name calling or general hate for one another. As it stands now, Canada has 1,310 deaths, 35 people per million. USA has 37,175 deaths, 110 people per million. These numbers don’t tell the whole story obviously but they must say something. Trump is talking about opening up the border between the countries. Canadian and provincial governments have said they’re not interested yet.

    Sure I wouldn’t want to sit on a plane for five hours crossing the country with a face mask on, if I had to actually fly now. But it’s five friggin hours of my life. People are dying daily because of this thing. If I think a mask might help me not get sick, or prevent someone else getting ill, I’ll wear it. But in the end, who is actually flying now? This affects very few people. And, I didn’t see this announcement saying this is a permanent policy.

  9. Absolutely ridiculous. Because a bandana or someone’s homemade mask made out of a tshirt actually does something? This is just another example of overblown hysteria and statistically worthless actions designed to make the crybabies feel better. How about the people who are immunocompromised and/or hypochondriacs stay at home and let the rest of us enjoy our lives? What happens if someone on a Montreal to Vancouver flight – 5hrs? – takes a sip of water from their own bottle? Oh no – respiratory droplets spray across the entire cabin!!! People need to get over this irrational fear and go back to living. We’ll all be better off.

  10. “And, I didn’t see this announcement saying this is a permanent policy.”

    The problem w/this statement, Steve, is that once something like this gets put into place, it’s very hard to undo for precisely the reasons Chiguy1979 mentioned.

    I am disappointed that the Canadians are the ones going down this road first-I fully expected something like this to come from the US, home of the ‘out of an abundance of caution’, but I expected the rest of the world to be more reasonable. Very disappointing.

  11. And in addition to “hoax” and ‘scamdemic” let’s add the moon landing was staged in the desert and the earth is really flat.
    Meanwhile about 2500 people died in the US yesterday.

  12. @neil

    I think all of those, including you, are taking it to the extreme.
    I do question the logic behind this, and not just for flying in Canada but in general public.
    1. What makes you think non-medical mask or face covering is as safe as using N95.
    2. What about people who don’t have access to those masks. Is pulling up my shirt enough?

    I’m trying to point out stupid measures that gives the public a false sense of security. Just like those stats that shows older people are at high risk so teenagers come out to party saying they’re not at risk.
    I would appreciate more mandatory measures that don’t leave room for (lack of) judgement calls.

  13. The WHO states there’s no evidence so far homemade masks work How will they check how efficient they are ? It’s impossible to tell. And what about children and infants ?
    The assumption is that if it’s mandatory people will be prohibited from removing them and yet what about eating and drinking? You need to hydrate or take medication

  14. I forgot to add it looks like restrictions required in Saudi Arabia
    Look who’s laughing now , when everyone has to wear a niqab

  15. For all those arguing the logistics of this, in this time, many governments are willing to do whatever they can to prevent the spread of this virus. The benefit of a face covering is that it prevents an asymptomatic patient spreading the virus as much as possible. Of course a medical mask would work better than a cloth. But if you can’t get one, let it be a cloth, t-shirt, or whatever. This is a new virus. It’s called the Novel Coronavirus for a reason (novel meaning new). We know relatively little about it. Therefore it makes sense to do as much as people can. Yes, you have to eat, and a mask won’t keep you from getting sick. And we shouldn’t think that at all. But that’s not the purpose of this. It’s to do as much as you can. And a mask can potentially help.

    If your willing to fly, then this is an easy precaution to take. If it even saves one person from getting sick, it’s worth it.

  16. The general attitude in this board shows exactly why europe/us are top of the cases found/dead. Notwithstanding the truthfulness of the chinese numbers, at least they (and the rest of asia) are implementing measures to reduce the spread and dont argue about it.

  17. @Eskimo

    You bring up some excellent points. You are absolutely right that a non-medical mask is not as safe as a N95 mask, but my understanding is that the purpose/benefit of a non-medical mask is different. A N95 mask is used in situations where the wearer needs to be protected from an infected person who may be exhaling airborne droplets possibly containing virus. A surgical mask and cloth masks do the opposite — they reduce the amount of airborne droplets the mask wearer could generate. Since our understanding of the virus is so incomplete, we don’t really know how many asymptomatic people are out there and asking folks to wear a mask is in my view a way to protect other folks that you may encounter. So I view wearing a non-medical mask as a way to make others with close contact feel more comfortable.
    Covering your face with anything including your shirt assuming it sufficient thick enough to block much of your exhaling would be perfectly fine.

  18. @jk

    China and Japan — China and Taiwan, too — are two very different countries. Please don’t treat “Asia” as one big place.

  19. @JB @Steve @JK @ Neil and some others.

    Thank you for your helpful comments. I do think masks are especially needed for ignorant people. Our founding fathers included Ben Franklin and other people of science. Unfortunately today, we are led by science deniers which is highlighting the new American exceptionalism of the 21st century which gave us 4,591 deaths on Thursday. We are leading the world here. Maybe we can learn from our northern neighbors.

  20. I’m surprised the real issues are not addressed. “Is pulling up my shirt enough?” “…what about eating and drinking?” ” no meal service then?” “People need to get over this irrational fear.” “I feel claustrophobic with it [mask] on.” “…a complete waste of time and false reassurance.” “…it can affect your breathing.” “…Does that mean no sleeping during the flight? “ “I am … somewhat amazed at a “Western” country making “non-medical masks or face coverings “mandatory” in specific situations.” “…you’re on a full flight, social distancing cant be maintained…” AMEN!

    Does no one get it? If each and every airplane was not a filthy piece of s**t, and seats were spaced so you didn’t have to crawl in, or out, of them, maybe no one would have to complain about travel restrictions. The real issue is that airlines are projecting blame, and responsibility, onto the passengers for their bacteria-filled petri dishes. It makes no difference which cabin passengers occupy. Everyone can get ill. HEPA filters only go so far. Airplanes are simply disgusting.

    If we have not learned anything about the Coronavirus, we live in a filthy world. NOW some cleaning is being done. Before, nada! Now they’re telling you it’s YOUR job to wipe down your entire seat, tray, armrests, etc. It’s your job, not theirs! If you want restrictions lifted, speak up about the conditions passengers are subjected to. Speak out, if not for yourself, but for others so YOU can again fly in comfort. Make airlines CHANGE. Smart people, smart companies learn from disasters and strive to make things better. However, it seems they want the same status quo!

    Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting change.

  21. Again, another dose of (in)sanity from our fearless leaders.

    Its not that covid-19 is a hoax, it is that any mask that can be found anywhere will do nothing except make it ‘look good’. We left Canada early January and have not been able to purchase anything resembling hand sanitizer. gloves or decent masks since. Laughed at in Asia and Europe. Sneered at locally.

    Not planning to travel for several months but with this requirement in place would definitely NOT BE ALLOWED as no access to PPE. I guess I could sneak into an ICU and steal some but that is not the ethical thing to do. PPE should be totally reserved for our health care professionals. not some nervous nellies flying around when they should be at home staying safe.

  22. I flew MEX-ATL-SLC on Thursday this week. (Had my flight cancelled twice before getting on one that flew. My original ticket was direct.)

    At MEX everyone wore a mask. Even the fashionable curvy chicas with crop tops and painted on pants had their lips fully covered. Security had a medical interview before they would even check your boarding pass, including a temperature check. Almost all the staff were wearing gloves, too, except for the grimy prim government official lady who checked my passport. (I wanted to wash it off afterward, but she was the last post before boarding.) They were taking this epidemic seriously.

    At ATL, most of the staff but well under half the pax were wearing masks. They’re just asking for an explosion of death.

    SLC was a little better than ATL but still not taking this seriously. Most Americans on the flight into SLC were just casually going mask free. That never would have been accepted in Mexico.

    Canada has the right idea, though it’s hilarious that they’re still asking for non-medical masks. They’re just trying to cover up the lies from WHO and CDC when they said medical masks won’t benefit the public. Turns out medical masks are the best possible thing for the public and they knew that all along. They were just trying to hoard the masks for themselves so they would have to figure out how to fix the shortages and difficulty ramping up production they caused by sending our manufacturing capacity to China.

    Our national leadership stinks. Canada’s too. Mexico I give a C-minus, best of a bad bunch.

  23. I think every airline should adopt it in given circumstances. You should watch Chris Martenson video masks why wearing even simple mask is important. To summarize, it mainly to reduce transmission from asymptomatic carriers (there are significantly fewer particles coming out of your mouth even with most simple mask), to remind us not to touch our face, especially after touching contaminated surfaces on the place and even if it does not fully protect you from getting infected it can reduce viral dose that you get and it will result in less severe illness.

    Many countries in Asia figured it out long time ago when there was SARS. I recently took a flight from BKK to AMS and almost everyone on the plane was wearing mask for the duration of the flight as well as all flight attendants. The service was also reduced to bare minimum to reduce interaction with flight crew and we were asked not to approach flight attendants with questions except in an emergency.

    I am totally fine with these measures and with reduction of service until the pandemic is over.

    Coming back from Thailand I was shocked that airport personal in Europe did not have masks nor hand saniterzers at security check points.

  24. We came back from Thailand in early Feb. Thailand was great and safe. You could buy masks, everywhere you went had a sanitiser and/or temperature sensors and the airports and flights were safe and had strong checks in place. Got back to London and they were patting themselves on the back for putting a few posters up. No testing or checks whatsoever. The UK is an island and I hate to think how many of the initially infected passed through LHR without any check at all. Hope we impose some form of testing if/when things start recovering. Not when you land, but before you get on an international flight. When you land, it’s too late

  25. @ james

    What makes you think i treat China/Taiwan/Japan as the same country? I merely said that countries in Asia, in general, have good measures established, yes there might be exceptions.

    It seems like you have a heart of glass, were you paid 50 cents to write that? Or is it 70 cents now?

  26. Flew China Airlines TPE-NRT on 24Mar20..350-900 Airbus…18 pax..All pax required to be wearing masks to board..dont know if it was a government requirement or airline requirement(which is government owned)…Mask work…look at the population of Taiwan and the number that are infected..been wearing masks for years because of the pollution blowing across the Taiwan straits from China..

  27. Actually closing the border early in the game and instituting tight controls is what worked.

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