Rules and regulations

No mask? No flight

Vehicle security screening point at Victoria International Airport (photo: Brett Ballah).

Starting Monday, new rules will require anyone passing through airport security in Canada to wear a mask or other face covering to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transport Canada announced the new rules Friday, mandating the use of non-medical masks or face coverings during screening and aircraft boarding, when it is difficult to maintain two metres of separation from others. The rules apply to passengers and staff passing through security in terminal buildings as well as vehicles passing through security to get onto airfields.

“Aviation passengers on all flights departing or arriving at Canadian airports will also be required to demonstrate they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process otherwise they will not be allowed to continue on their journey,” said an order issued by Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

“Canadians should continue to follow public health advice and stay at home if possible,” Garneau said in a statement. “However, if you need to travel, wearing a face covering is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, especially in situations where physical distancing guidelines cannot be maintained”

Airline employees are empowered to order passengers to wear their masks, and airlines are “strongly recommended” to allow staff to wear masks during flights.

In response to the directive, both Air Canada and Westjet announced they would require the face coverings throughout a passenger’s journey.

Masks are becoming more and more common for people who still have to travel. Harbour Air, a Vancouver-based regional airline, announced it would require passengers to wear masks on board as it re-started limited essential services.


The Public Health Agency of Canada says masks should be made of at least two layers of fabric such as cotton or linen. They should cover the mouth and nose and fit securely on your face with ties or ear loops. The agency has also provided helpful diagrams for people who either want to sew their own masks at home, use a bandana, or cut a t-shirt into a makeshift face covering.

A worldwide shortage of medical-grade masks has affected hospitals, front line workers, and even Boeing’s workforce at the plane maker’s plants in the Seattle area.

The new order comes as airports across the country continue to scale back their service in light of dwindling passenger numbers.

Charlottetown will close its terminal from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday. No flights passenger flights are scheduled, so there’s no reason for the terminal to open, goes the reasoning.

The government of Prince Edward Island announced Thursday that anyone planning to travel to the island would have to get prior approval that coming there was essential and not a pleasure trip.

Charlottetown is down to eight flights per week aboard Canada’s to national carriers, Air Canada and Westjet, with no passenger service on weekends.