Mask-wearing loophole on flights closed by Transport Canada

A loophole that may have allowed some air passengers to avoid wearing a face covering during their flight has been closed, after Transport Canada updated a COVID-19 travel order. 

The ministerial order, updated Friday, now states that passengers who provide a “medical certificate certifying that they are unable to wear a face mask for a medical reason” will be exempt from doing so.

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Prior to Friday’s updated order, passengers could say they had “breathing difficulties unrelated to COVID-19” to get out of wearing a mask.

Exceptions remain in place, for example, for children under the age of two, and people who are unable to remove their face mask without assistance.

The federal agency has required all air travellers in Canada to wear a face covering or mask since April 20 to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

That includes in the airport, during boarding, and throughout the flight – except when drinking, eating or taking oral medication.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Twitter, Canadian airline WestJet announced that its passengers would need to comply with the updated order as of Aug. 11.

“Should a guest be unable to provide a physician’s exemption they will be denied travel until clearance is produced,” the airline said, adding that, so far, its passengers have done an “excellent job” of adhering to the rule on wearing face masks.

WestJet says that the medical note must:

  • Be issued by a medical professional
  • Be on official letterhead
  • Be dated
  • Clearly state your name and that you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask

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