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COVID-19: Ottawa institutes new measures for domestic air and rail travel

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau at the COFI convention Thursday. Bill Phillips photo
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau

Ottawa has put restrictions on domestic travel as the country strives to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on the transportation industry, travellers, shippers and the economy,” said Marc Garneau, minister of transport. “We recognize the importance of the continued movement of goods and the ongoing delivery of essential services in Canada’s response to COVID‑19, while taking necessary measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction and will ensure alignment on a national level. I also want to thank all essential workers in the trade and transportation sector for continuing to provide services that benefit Canadians and the economy in this difficult time.”

These new measures include:

Air

  • A requirement for all air operators to conduct a health check of travellers before they board a flight within Canada or departing from Canada, based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. This would include asking health questions, looking for visible signs of illness prior to boarding, and recommending the traveller follow guidance from local health authorities.
  • A requirement for air operators to refuse boarding to a passenger that presents COVID-19 symptoms. The denial will remain in effect for a period of 14 days, or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the traveller’s symptoms are not related to COVID-19. These measures will apply to aircraft with 10 seats or more.
  • A requirement for air operators to notify travellers that they may be subject to provincial or territorial measures at their final destination.
  • These measures will come into effect on March 30, 2020 at noon EDT.
Rail
  • A requirement for intercity passenger rail companies to do a health check to screen passengers for COVID-19 symptoms before they board a train, based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. This will include company representatives asking simple health questions, looking for visible signs of illness prior to boarding, and recommending the passenger follow guidance from local health authorities. 
  • A requirement for intercity passenger rail companies to refuse boarding to a passenger that presents COVID-19 symptoms. The denial will remain in effect for a period of 14 days, or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the traveller’s symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
  • These measures do not apply to commuter trains.
  • These measures will come into effect on March 30, 2020 at noon EDT.

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