Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a series of new measures on Friday that will also require people flying in Canada to wear masks at all Canadian checkpoints whenever it is not possible to maintain a distance of two meters from the others.
Travelers should wear masks whenever they cannot physically distance themselves from others, or when requested to do so by an airline staff member or a public health official.
Passengers arriving or departing from Canada will be required to demonstrate that they have a non-medical mask or face covering with them during the boarding process; if they cannot, they may be prevented from continuing their journey.
“If you need to travel, wearing a face cover is one more measure you can take to protect others around you, especially in situations where physical distance guidelines cannot be followed,” Garneau said in a statement.
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The new guidelines also require people traveling on boats or ships, trains or motor vehicles to voluntarily wear non-medical masks whenever physical distance is not possible.
The only exceptions to the new rules, which come into effect at noon on April 20, are for children under the age of two and some people with disabilities.
Air passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board an aircraft, whether or not they have a mask.
The Garneau department said it was working with airlines and unions that had lobbied for the regulations to keep workers in the industry safe.
Initially, Canadians were told not to wear non-medical masks because maintaining physical distance from others was considered sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus.
Garneau’s office said scientific advice on masks has changed and the rules are changing as well.
The federal government maintains that wearing masks is not a substitute for keeping a physical distance of two meters from others, regular hand washing and keeping at home as much as possible.
Non-medical masks help prevent those who wear them from spreading the virus.