COVID-19: Guidance Material for Air Operators Managing Air Travellers for Flights Departing from an Aerodrome in Canada

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Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for air operators regarding the implementation of requirements included in the Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, No. 13 (the Interim Order).

Caveat: The content of this guidance document does not supersede any requirement or obligation outlined in the Interim Order. It is meant to provide recommendations and guidance on how to understand and carry out the requirements.

Overview

This guidance material, dated November 10, 2020, replaces the November 4, 2020 version. This iteration includes minor precisions to the previous iteration based on the Interim Order (no. 13), and does not include any new significant operational obligation on air operators. The minor clarifications pertain to: (1) the definition of a non-medical mask or face covering; (2) the age thresholds for children to wear masks; and (3) masks for hearing impaired. These changes are reflected in Annex C (which provides guidance on non-medical masks and face coverings).

The following summarizes the changes made on November 4, 2020 which still remain in effect:

  • Non-medical masks or face coverings: definitions updated to match the recently released guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada (November 3, 2020). This includes updates to what is an acceptable non-medical mask or face covering, as well as changes to the age thresholds for children to wear a mask (see Annex C).
  • Physical Distancing: Removed the two meter physical distancing exception for passengers and crew members, as well as removed the exception for members of the same household who are seated together to remove their masks. Masks are now required for the entire travel journey, with the exception of when eating, drinking or taking oral medicine, even when seated next to a member of the same household.
  • Health Checks: reduced the burden on air carriers by removing the requirement to pose additional health check questions; passengers will be required to make a single confirmation that covers the elements of the health check, based off the notification (see updates to the Section on Notification and Confirmation Process).
  • Some administrative/formatting changes.

Recommended Sequencing for Air Operators

1. Notification and Confirmation Process

Transport Canada recommends this be conducted during the online or in-person check-in process (See Annex A1 and Annex A2 for pre-board messages). To reduce the situation where passengers are denied boarding, Transport Canada is recommending that air operators publish on their websites early notifications to remind and alert those considering flying what they can expect on their journey as per the requirements below. Notifications on websites should also advise travellers that they will require a medical certificate if they are exhibiting COVID like symptoms, an elevated temperature or are unable to wear a non-medical mask or face covering due to a medical condition.

Air Operators must notify every passenger:

  • They may not be permitted to board if:
    • they are exhibiting: (1) a fever and cough; or (2) a fever and difficulty breathing; and do not have a medical certificate certifying these symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
    • they have, or have any reason to suspect they have, COVID-19.
    • they have not been permitted to board an aircraft in the previous 14 days for medical reasons related to COVID-19; or
    • they are the subject of a mandatory quarantine order as a result of having recently travelled or because of a local or provincial health order.

    Note: Passengers must be notified that if they knowingly provide any false or misleading information about their health they may be subject to a monetary penalty of up to $5,000.

  • They may be subject to a measure taken by the federal, provincial or territorial government at the destination airport for that flight in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A summary of the provincial/territorial restrictions can be found in Annex B.
  • They must be in possession of a non-medical mask or face covering (see Annex C for a description of an acceptable non-medical mask or face covering) prior to boarding and must wear the non-medical mask or face covering throughout their entire travel journey (unless they provide a medical certificate certifying that they are unable to wear a non-medical mask or face covering for medical reasons). This includes wearing the non-medical mask or face covering at airport screening checkpoints, during the boarding process, during the flight, and upon landing and disembarking at a Canadian airport (even if they are from the same household). They must also comply with any instructions given by a gate agent, aerodrome security personnel or crew member with respect to wearing the non-medical mask or face covering.

    Note: Some exceptions apply when the person could be endangered by wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, when they are eating, drinking or taking oral medications, when the gate agent or crew member authorizes the removal of a non-medical mask or face covering to address unforeseen circumstances or special needs or when a gate agent, aerodrome security personnel or a crew member authorizes the removal of the non-medical mask or face covering for identity verification.

  • They must undergo temperature screening which will occur prior to entering the restricted area. If it indicates a fever (38 °C and above), they will be denied access to the restricted area (and therefore boarding) for a period of 14 days, unless the person can provide a medical certificate certifying that the fever is not related to COVID-19. This applies if they are departing from the air terminal building of one of the airports listed in Schedule 1 (YYC, YUL, YYZ ,YVR, YEG, YHZ, YLW, YOW, YQB, YQR, YXE, YYT, YTZ, YYJ and YWG) of the Interim Order.

Passengers must confirm to the Air operator that:

  • They: (1) do not have or suspect they have COVID-19; (2) have not been denied boarding in the previous 14 days by an air operator due to a medical reason related to COVID-19; and (3) are not subject to a mandatory quarantine order as a result of recent travel or from a local/provincial health order. This is now done in a single confirmation.

    Note: a competent adult may provide this confirmation on behalf of another adult who may require assistance (in a situation where it is required).

  • They are in possession of a face mask or face covering (or have a medical certificate stating a reason why they cannot wear a mask).
  • They understand that they may be subject to a provincial, territorial, or federal government measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when travelling within Canada.
  • They understand that they may be refused boarding of an aircraft leaving a Canadian airport for a period of 14 days if they are found to have an elevated temperature, unless they provide a medical certificate certifying that the elevated temperature is not related to COVID-19 (if departing from the air terminal building of one of the airports listed in Schedule 1 (YYC, YUL, YYZ ,YVR, YEG, YHZ, YLW, YOW, YQB, YQR, YXE, YYT, YTZ, YYJ and YWG) of the Interim Order.

2. Directing Passengers for Retrieval of Baggage

If notified by the screening authority that a passenger cannot enter the restricted area (due to an elevated temperature) at one of the airports listed in Schedule 1 of the Interim Order (YYC, YUL, YYZ, YVR, YEG, YHZ, YLW, YOW, YQB, YQR, YXE, YYT, YTZ, YYJ and YWG) Air operators must ensure:

  • 1) The passenger is directed to a location where they can retrieve their checked baggage, if applicable;
  • 2) The escort, if one is provided, to take the passenger to a location to retrieve their checked baggage, wears a non-medical mask or face covering.

    Note: additional Personal Protective Equipment may be required as determined by local workplace health and safety standards;

    and

  • 3) The screening authority at the aerodrome has been provided with the name and phone number of the on-duty representative of the air carrier for the purpose of facilitating the return of checked baggage for persons who have been denied access to the restricted area as a result of having an elevated temperature.

3. Boarding Process

General Process:

During the identity verification process, and as part of the visual observation that a passenger has an appropriate non-medical mask or face covering, passengers must be reminded to cover their mouth and nose before going up to the boarding gate counter. After handing over their identity documents and tickets to the air operator representative, a passenger should be asked to step back an appropriate distance, and pull down their non-medical mask or face covering to briefly uncover their face (using the ties/elastics) in order to complete the identity verification. After the identity verification is complete, the passenger can then re-cover their mouth and nose before collecting their documents from the air operator representative. Air operators should also consider pre-boarding passengers who are unable to wear a non-medical face covering and making special seating arrangements (e.g., infants and younger children seated next to the window, away from the aisle).

Requirements for Air operators:

  • Ensure gate agents and crew members are wearing a non-medical mask or face covering. An exception to the wearing of a face mask or face covering applies when the safety of the gate agent or crew member could be endangered by wearing one, when it could interfere with the operational requirements or the safety of the flight or when they are eating, drinking or taking oral medications.
  • Observe whether passengers boarding the flight exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and deny boarding to those who exhibit a fever and a cough or a fever and difficulty breathing unless they have a medical certificate identifying the symptoms are unrelated to COVID-19.
  • Verify that every passenger boarding the flight is wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, and deny boarding to those who don’t, with the exclusion of the following: an infant less than 2 years old (note that it is recommended for children ages 2 to 5 years old but not mandatory), a person who provides a medical certificate certifying that they are unable to wear a non-medical mask or face covering for medical reasons (see Annex D for an example medical certificate), a person who is unconscious, or a person who is unable to remove their face mask without assistance. Some exceptions apply when the person could be endangered by wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, when they are eating, drinking or taking oral medications, when the gate agent or crew member authorizes the removal of a non-medical mask or face covering to address unforeseen circumstances or special needs or when a gate agent, aerodrome security personnel or a crew member authorizes the removal of the non-medical mask or face covering for identity verification.

4. Denial of boarding

In the event that the air operator observes that the air traveller has COVID-19 symptoms the air operator will be required to refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the symptoms that the person is exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.

  • Unless a medical certificate is provided, the air operator is also required to deny boarding if the air traveller:
    • refuses to answer questions on the health check;
    • does not have a removable non-medical mask or face covering in their possession (see Annex C for guidance on non-medical masks or face coverings); or
    • refuses to comply with an instruction given by a crew member or gate agent with respect to wearing a non-medical mask or face covering.
  • The air traveller may also be denied access to the restricted area, by the screening authority, due to an elevated temperature which means that the person would not be able to board their flight.

If a denial of boarding situation occurs, the Air operator should follow these steps:

  • Provide explanation for future travel – Air operators will explain to air travellers who are denied boarding, based on the health check, observation of symptoms or elevated temperature, that they will need to wait 14 days before they are able to fly or that they will need to provide a medical certificate indicating the symptoms that they are exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.
  • Advise air travellers to follow local health authorities related to COVID-19 – Air operators should advise air travellers who have been denied boarding, due to indicating or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, to follow the guidance/direction from their provincial/territorial health authorities for dealing with the COVID-19 infection.

5. In-flight – To be conducted as appropriate and in accordance with the Interim Order:

  • Air operators require crew members and passengers to wear a non-medical mask or face covering during the flight. An exclusion applies to some persons when they are on the flight deck (e.g. pilots, flight engineers or flight attendants, TC inspectors, a person providing service who has expertise related to the aircraft). An exception also applies when the safety of the crew member or passenger could be endangered by wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, when it could interfere with operational requirements or the safety of the flight, or when they are eating, drinking or taking oral medications. In addition, the following exclusions apply: an infant less than 2 years old, a person who provides a medical certificate certifying that they are unable to wear a non-medical mask or face covering for medical reasons, a person who is unconscious, and a person who is unable to remove their non-medical mask or face covering without assistance.
  • If, during a flight, a passenger refuses to comply with an instruction given by a crew member with respect to wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, the Air operator must keep a record of the following information and inform the Minister, as soon as feasible, of this record:
    • the date and flight number;
    • the passenger’s name and contact information;
    • the passenger’s seat number on the flight; and
    • the circumstances related to this refusal to comply.

6. Deplaning process (Domestic flights only) – to be conducted upon landing:

  • AIR OPERATORS advise passengers that they are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering during the deplaning process. While there is no requirement from Transport Canada to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while deplaning at a location outside of Canada, please note that the department strongly recommends this practice, in accordance with ICAO CART recommendations (https://www.icao.int/covid/cart/Pages/default.aspx).

Denied boarding due to COVID-19 symptoms?

  • Leave the airport and go immediately to a place where you can self-isolate for 14-days, and use private transportation, where possible, such as a personal vehicle to get there.
  • Practice physical distancing at all times
  • Practice frequent hygiene, including proper hand washing and coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering over your mouth and nose at all times to protect others
  • Get more information at: www.canada.ca/coronavirus

Available COVID-19 Resources:

Government of Canada: 1-833-784-4397 or visit www.canada.ca/coronavirus

Provincial and territorial:

Annex A1: Pre-Board Notification to Domestic Passengers

The pre-board notification process can be done at automated check-in kiosks, by agents at the check-in counter, or any other means, at the discretion of the air operator; however, it is recommended that the passenger be made aware of the requirement to have a non-medical mask or face covering in their possession prior to arriving at the airport.

Pre-board Notification to Domestic Passengers

The Government of Canada, along with provincial and territorial authorities, have put measures in place in order to manage the spread of COVID-19.

Prior to boarding this flight, you will be required to undergo a health check and a temperature screening. Verification that you have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover your mouth, nose and chin will also be conducted. Providing false or misleading answers could result in a maximum fine of $5,000. The temperature screening process will be done using a device that measures the temperature on your forehead, which will require that it be exposed. Any scarf, head covering or hair in this area may need to be lifted temporarily so that a proper temperature reading can be taken.

The Government of Canada is requiring that all travellers have a removable non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth, nose and chin to prevent the inadvertent spread of COVID-19. Travellers must wear their non-medical mask or face covering at all times during the screening process and the boarding process, as well as during the flight, upon landing and when exiting the aircraft, or as directed to do so by a member of the aerodrome security personnel, a gate agent or crew member.

As a reminder, no person should board a flight when they are feeling ill as this could potentially put others at risk. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while in flight, please notify a crew member immediately.

When arriving at your destination, you may be subject to further measures taken by the provincial or territorial government in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please remember it is your responsibility to confirm potential restrictions regarding your final destination point.

Annex A2: Pre-Board Notification to Passengers Departing Canada

The pre-board notification process can be done at automated check-in kiosks, by agents at the check-in counter, or any other means, at the discretion of the air operator; however, it is recommended that the passenger be made aware of the requirement to have a non-medical face mask or face covering in their possession prior to arriving at the airport.

The Government of Canada has put measures in place in order to manage the spread of COVID-19.

Prior to boarding this flight, you will be required to undergo a health check and a temperature screening. Providing false or misleading answers could result in a maximum fine of $5,000. The temperature screening process will be done using a device that measures the temperature on your forehead, which will require that it be exposed. Any scarf, head covering or hair in this area may need to be lifted temporarily so that a proper temperature reading can be taken.

The Government of Canada is requiring that all travellers have a removable non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth, nose and chin to prevent the inadvertent spread of COVID-19. Travellers must wear their non-medical mask or face covering at all times during the screening process and the boarding process, as well as during the flight, upon landing, and when exiting the aircraft, as directed to do so by a member of the aerodrome security personnel, a gate agent or crew member.

As a reminder, no person should board a flight when they are feeling ill as this could potentially put others at risk. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while in flight, please notify a crew member immediately.

Annex A3: In-flight announcement for a Canadian Domestic Flight

In light of the global pandemic related to COVID-19, the Government of Canada, in cooperation with provincial/territorial public health authorities, has put in place important measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Please be advised that many provinces and territories are asking all travellers, with some exceptions for essential services, to undergo self-isolation periods of up to 14 days to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Travellers are reminded that they must use their non-medical mask or face covering during their journey. Upon landing, passengers will be required to wear their non-medical mask or face covering when gathering their belongings and leaving the aircraft, until they are outside the air terminal building.

Along with wearing a non-medical mask or face covering and physical distancing, the Government of Canada strongly advises all travellers in Canada to use the free COVID Alert app to:

  • Be notified when they may have been exposed to COVID-19;
  • Get advice on what to do next; and
  • Tell nearby app users if you test positive for COVID-19, without sharing personal information.

Stay safe and be informed about COVID-19 measures from Canadian national, provincial and territorial health authorities that apply in the region where you are heading.

Annex B: Provincial/Territorial Restrictions

Please note that provincial and territorial information is changing on a frequent basis. It is recommended that travellers consult the following provincial and territorial government websites to obtain the latest travel information:

Province/Territory Information

Alberta

Entry restrictions:

All non-exempt travellers returning to or entering Alberta from outside Canada are required to isolate for 14 days.

Travellers to Alberta should consult COVID-19 info for Albertans

British Columbia

Entry restrictions:

All non-exempt travellers returning to or entering British Columbia from outside Canada are required to isolate for 14 days.

Travellers to British Columbia should consult British Columbia COVID-19

Manitoba

Entry restrictions:

Anyone entering Manitoba, regardless of whether from another country or another province must self-isolate for 14 days.

Travellers to Manitoba should consult Manitoba COVID-19

New Brunswick

Entry restrictions:

All unnecessary travel in NB is prohibited and peace officers are authorized to turn visitors away when they attempt to enter. Unnecessary travel includes non-residents of NB to make or receive purchases, to visit or for other social purposes.

Travellers to New Brunswick should consult New Brunswick Coronavirus

Newfoundland and Labrador

Entry restrictions:

The only individuals permitted to enter the province are those who are:

  • Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island;
  • Asymptomatic workers and individuals who are subject to the Self-Isolation Exemption Order; and
  • Individuals who have been permitted entry to the province in extenuating circumstances, as approved in advance by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

For more information on traveling to Newfoundland and Labrador: Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 information

Northwest Territories

Entry restrictions:

The Northwest Territories (NWT) Chief Public Health Officer has prohibited all travel into the Northwest Territories.

For more information on traveling to Northwest Territories coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Nova Scotia

Entry restrictions:

No travel restrictions, however anyone who has travelled outside of Nova Scotia (including interprovincial) must self-isolate for 14 days as per provincial public health orders.

Travellers to Nova Scotia should consult Nova Scotia novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Nunavut

Entry restrictions:

Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO), 2020, to prohibit all travel within Nunavut that originated from across any inter-jurisdictional border. Only Nunavut residents and critical employees will be allowed into the territory.

Nunavut COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Ontario

Entry restrictions:

No travel restrictions beyond the Public health Agency of Canada order for 14 day mandatory quarantine (no symptoms) or isolation (with symptoms) for those who have recently returned to Canada.

Ontario: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Prince Edward Island

Entry restrictions:

All non-essential travel into the province is prohibited. Peace officers are authorized to turn any person(s) away who attempts to enter the province for unnecessary travel and to require any person(s) to leave the province immediately. Screening measures are in place at all entry points to the province including the Charlottetown Airport.

Prince Edward Island COVID-19

Quebec

Entry restrictions:

Anyone returning from outside Canada must self-isolate for 14 days, whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Québec

Saskatchewan

Entry restrictions:

Travellers returning from international destinations (including the United States) are subject to a mandatory self-isolation public health order and federal quarantine requirements.

Travellers to Saskatchewan should consult Saskatchewan COVID-19

Yukon

Entry restrictions:

Travellers who are not residents of BC, NWT or Nunavut, or have travelled outside of those jurisdictions in the 14 days prior to entering Yukon are required to self-isolate in Whitehorse for 14 days.

Travellers to Yukon should consult Yukon: Find information about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Annex C: Removable non-medical masks or face coverings

Well-designed and well-fitting non-medical masks or face coverings can prevent the spread of your infectious respiratory droplets. They may also help protect you from the infectious respiratory droplets of others. How well a non-medical mask or face covering works depends on the materials used, how it is made, and most importantly, how well it fits. For more information on non-medical masks or face coverings consult: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/about-non-medical-masks-face-coverings.html#a1

Safe Use of Removable Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings

Removable non-medical masks / face coverings should: Removable non-medical masks / face coverings should not:
  • Be made of at least 3 layers*Note: Asterisk Instructions Regarding Assessing Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings. There is no expectation to have passengers remove their mask to verify that there is a specific number of layers beyond “multiple” layers (which means more than one layer); a visual verification is sufficient to assess whether the requirements appear to be met. Air carriers can refer to the “Acceptable vs Not Acceptable Non-medical Mask of Face Covering” Poster that has been developed by Transport Canada. End note: 2 layers should be made of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen) and between these layers should be a layer of a filter-type fabric
  • Be large enough to completely and comfortable cover the nose, mouth, and chin without gaping
  • Allow for easy breathing
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops (non-medical masks covering a person’s beard or secured around a headwear (e.g. turban) are also considered acceptable)
  • Be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
  • Be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • Maintain its shape after washing and drying
  • Be placed on children less than 2 years old
  • Be placed on anyone who is unconscious
  • Be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance
  • Be placed on anyone with a medical certificate indicating they should not wear a mask
  • Be made exclusively of plastic sheeting, lace or mesh, or materials that easily fall apart (e.g., tissues)
  • Be shared with others
  • Impair vision or interfere with tasks

*Instructions Regarding Assessing Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings:

There is no expectation to have passengers remove their mask to verify that there is a specific number of layers beyond “multiple” layers (which means more than one layer); a visual verification is sufficient to assess whether the requirements appear to be met. Air carriers can refer to the “Acceptable vs Not Acceptable Non-medical Mask of Face Covering” Poster that has been developed by Transport Canada.

Accepted vs Not Accepted Facemask Poster

Accepted vs Not Accepted Facemask Poster - Text version

This poster provides a visual description of the masks that have been deemed acceptable versus not acceptable by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The masks that are deemed acceptable are: Cloth masks with or without a clear window and disposable masks. The masks that are not acceptable are: face shields only, bandanas, mesh or lace masks, neck gaiters, or masks with exhalation valves.

Age restrictions regarding children (as outlined in Interim Order no. 13):

  • Children under the age of 2 are not required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering.
  • Between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age, children are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering at the time of boarding, during flight and while disembarking, so long as the child is able to tolerate it. Children in this age bracket (or their parents/guardian) must be able to demonstrate they have a mask in their possession when boarding the plane, even if the child is not be able to tolerate wearing the non-medical mask or face covering at that time.
  • Children six and older must wear one when travelling, unless their parent or guardian has a medical certificate.

For further information about the children and the wearing of masks, see PHAC’s situations or settings where they're recommended.

Hearing impairments and clear masks:

The use of non-medical masks or face coverings with a transparent material over the mouth to facilitate lip reading is encouraged if someone is hearing impaired, if they interact with people who use lip-reading to communicate, or in settings where facial expression is an important part of communication. However, the rest of the mask must still be made of tightly woven material such as cotton or linen and have a tight seal between the transparent material and rest of the non-medical mask or face covering.

When wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, take the following precautions:

  • wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching the mask or face covering
  • don’t hang the non-medical mask or face covering from your ears or place it under your chin
  • replace and launder your non-medical mask whenever it becomes damp or dirty
  • store the non-medical mask or face covering in a clean paper or cloth bag until you put it on again
  • place all soiled non-medical masks or face coverings in a secure, waterproof bag or container until they can be washed in the laundry
  • wash your non-medical mask or face covering with hot, soapy water and let it dry completely before wearing it again
  • discard non-medical masks that cannot be washed in a plastic lined garbage bin after use

Annex D: Example Medical Certificates

Conditions Causing Elevated Body Temperatures

See Conditions Causing Elevated Body Temperatures

Conditions Preventing the Wearing of Face Masks or Face Coverings

See Conditions Preventing the Wearing of Face Masks or Face Coverings