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Feds mandate face-covering for aviation sector, issue guidance for other transportation workers

Wednesday, June 03, 2020 @ 4:16 PM | By Cristin Schmitz


Ottawa is mandating new face-covering measures for workers in the aviation industry, while also recommending similar but still-voluntary measures in the marine, rail and road transportation sectors.

Effective June 4 at noon (EDT), the existing face covering, non-medical mask requirements for airline passengers will be extended to include airport gate agents, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) screening officers and other airport workers, as well as some flight crew (but not pilots when they are on flight decks, due to safety concerns identified by the industry.)

All non-passengers entering the restricted area of an airport (with some adjustments to reflect safety requirements) must have a face covering and wear it:
  • at the security screening checkpoint by a CATSA officer when that officer is two metres or less from a person they are screening;
  • at the security screening checkpoint by the non-passenger who is being screened;
  • during the boarding process when a gate agent is two metres or less from another person (e.g. when accepting boarding passes or identity documents); and
  • during a flight when the crew member is two metres or less from another person (e.g. when assisting or serving a passenger).

The government noted that to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, Transport Canada and the transportation industry have already implemented a layered system of safety measures, such as increased sanitization, health checks for passengers and allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles on ferries. But there are still points in the transportation system where workers must be in close proximity to co-workers and travellers.

The additional measures for workers announced June 3, including a more comprehensive approach to face coverings, will be implemented through a combination of mandatory interim orders and guidance material that is consistent with the specific characteristics of each mode of transport, a Transport Canada press release states.

“The measures we are putting in place today will further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for transportation workers and passengers,” Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said in a prepared statement. “The use of face coverings can limit the transmission of the virus where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Transport Canada will continue to ensure various transportation systems adapt to the most effective, preventive measures to protect Canadians.”

The government said the new measures complement recent regulations and guidelines for passengers to use face coverings in certain circumstances when travelling by air, marine and rail to reduce the risk of the virus transmission.

Transport Canada said it is issuing a Ship Safety Bulletin to ask that all workers in the marine transportation sector have in their possession, or have access to, a face covering. The government recommends that face coverings be worn “using a risk-based approach specific to the unique circumstances of the workplace, when physical distancing cannot be maintained, and/or when local authorities or vessel masters require it.”

Transport Canada said it is also issuing “face-covering guidance” to the rail sector, asking that rail operators notify passengers that they will be asked to wear a face covering when physical distancing of two metres from others cannot be maintained, or as requested by rail operators.

Transport Canada is also asking that rail operators provide, or make accessible, a face covering for all workers in the rail industry, and that they “ensure a face covering be worn by workers on a risk-based approach specific to the unique circumstances of the workplace, when physical distancing cannot be maintained, and/or when local authorities require it.”

With respect to the road transportation industry (trucking, motor coach, transit), Ottawa said it will “establish a set of practices for the use of personal protective equipment, including face coverings, in road transportation ... in collaboration with provinces, territories and industry.”

The planned set of practices for the use of masks, face coverings and gloves to help protect workers and passengers involved in road transportation will apply to commercial vehicle and motor carrier operations; intercommunity bus operations; and urban transit operations, said the government.

“Respectful of the lead role of public health agencies in the context of health-risk reduction and the use of personal protective equipment, the practices established for road transportation are informed by public health guidance, in full respect of jurisdictional authority and regional operational realities.”

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily please contact Cristin Schmitz at Cristin.Schmitz@lexisnexis.ca or at 613-820-2794.