The Minister of Transport has issued a Ministerial Order to Prevent Certain Persons from Boarding Intercity Passenger Rail in Canada due to COVID-19, under section 32.01 of the Railway Safety Act, requiring that passenger rail carriers (except commuter rail operators) under federal jurisdiction:
Beginning on March 30, 2020 at 12:00pm Eastern Daylight Time:
- Where possible, notify passengers before boarding the train, that they may be subject to a health check to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ; and,
- Conduct mandatory health checks for every passenger before the passenger boards the train, and advise every passenger that they are not to provide answers that they know to be false or misleading.
In addition to the requirements under the Ministerial Order, Transport Canada is requesting that trains read out the announcement, provided in Annex A, on-board the train.
- To provide guidance on notifying passengers, who present themselves at Canadian train stations for travel to and, within Canada, that they may be subject to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their destination; and,
- Secondly, to provide guidance in conducting the health check and in detecting and managing travellers with suspected COVID-19.
Passenger Rail Carriers should:
- Notify passengers at time of ticket purchase that they may be subject to a health check and to wear a mask or face covering when physical distancing from others is not possible in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
- Notify passengers, prior to boarding the train, that they will be required to undergo a health check. This will involve answering a few simple questions to which you must answer truthfully;
- Have employees read out an announcement, similar to the one provided below, prior to or onboard the train. Where required, the rail carrier should post equivalent signage; and,
- Conduct health checks for every passenger before boarding and advise every passenger that they are not to provide answers that they know to be false or misleading.
Process for Health Check
The management of ill travellers at railway stations in the context of the current COVID-19 disease outbreak includes the following steps:
- Conducting the health check – Railway operators are required to do a health check of all rail passengers before they board a train in Canada. The health check (identified below) has been approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada and is based on guidance material published by the World Health Organization on February 16, 2020. The health check may be administered by an employee at the check-in counter, at the boarding gate, or at the passenger car door asking the traveller the questions. The visual observation for symptoms may be done by an employee at the check-in counter or boarding gate to look for signs that the person is unwell.
- Denial of boarding – In the event that the railway operator observes that the rail passenger has COVID-19 symptoms or that their response to any of the questions on the health check indicates a need to deny boarding, the railway company will be required to refuse to board the person for travel 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.
- Provide explanation for future travel – Railway operators will explain to rail passengers who are denied boarding, based on the health check or observation, that they will need to wait 14 days before they are able to board a train or any other carrier in Canada, or that they will need to provide a medical certificate indicating that the symptoms that they are exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.
- Advise rail passengers to follow local health authorities related to COVID-19 – Railway operators should advise rail passengers who have been denied boarding a train to follow the guidance/direction from the local health authorities for dealing with the COVID-19 infection.
Questionnaire for Health Check
Railway operators should protect themselves by maintaining more than 2 m between themselves and travellers at all times, which is also known as social distancing. Staff should be instructed to encourage travellers to maintain more than 2 m distance between themselves while in line.
If the response (or non-response) to any of the four questions below results in the answer that is in bold, then a denial of boarding must be applied, in accordance with the Ministerial Order.
- Do you have a fever and a cough? If YES, or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
- Do you have a fever and breathing difficulty? If YES, or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
- Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days by a company or any other carrier due to a medical reason related to COVID-19? If YES, or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
- Are you currently under mandatory quarantine, as a result of recent travel or by orders from the provincial, territorial or local public health authorities? If YES, has a federal, provincial or territorial health authority given you explicit permission to continue your onward journey by train to reach your self-isolation location? If No explicit permission, deny boarding. If the passenger refuses to answer the question, deny boarding.
Annex A: Sample notification to train passengers
In order to manage the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada, along with the provinces and territories have put in place recommended practices.
Prior to boarding a train you may be requested to undergo a health check. This will involve answering a few simple questions to which you must answer truthfully.
When arriving at your destination, you may be subject to further measures taken by the provincial or territorial government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As a reminder, no person should board a passenger train when they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while on-board, please notify railway employees immediately.
Based on a recommendation from Transport Canada, during the voyage, you should wear a face covering that covers your mouth and nose in situations where you cannot maintain two metres of physical separation.