COVID-19: Guidance Material for Air Operators
Managing Travellers during the Check-In Procedure for Flights Departing from an Aerodrome in Canada

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Overview

The Minister of Transport has issued an Interim Order to Prevent Certain Persons from Boarding Flights in Canada due to COVID-19, pursuant to sub-section 6.41 (1) of the Aeronautics Act, effective April 17, 2020, which repeals the previous version signed on April 9, 2020.

In response to managing the COVID-19 outbreak, certain provincial and territorial governments are suspending services considered non-essential. Due to the numerous restrictions on the movement of Canadians and the numerous voluntary isolations in the country, it is estimated that many Canadians will end up with invalid identification as they won't be able to renew it before it expires. Annex B provides guidance concerning pre-boarding identification requirements for domestic air travel.

This guidance material, dated April 27, 2020, replaces the April 18, 2020 version. It includes an update to the provincial/territorial self-isolation plan table in Annex C, which now encompasses Newfoundland and Labrador. The section in this guidance material impacted by this change is Annex C – Provincial/Territorial Self-Isolation Plans.

Purpose

To provide guidance on notifying passengers, who present themselves at Canadian aerodromes for travel within Canada and outbound. Domestic passengers must be informed that they may be subject to measures taken by the provincial or territorial government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the destination airport for that flight. All passengers (domestic and outbound) must be notified that they will be required to undergo and health check and a verification that they are carrying a non-medical mask or face covering, to which they must answer truthfully. Second, to provide guidance in conducting the health check and in detecting and managing ill travellers with suspected COVID-19. Lastly, to verify that the passenger has a removable face covering or mask.

Step 1. Notification and Confirmation Process – Recommended to be conducted as early as possible, such as when travelers book a flight and/or, at the latest, during the online or in person check-in process (see section Process for Notification Domestic and Outbound Flights):

  • AIR OPERATORS notify passengers that they may be subject to a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 taken by the provincial or territorial government with jurisdiction at the destination airport for that flight (domestic flights only). A summary of the provincial/territorial requirements for self-isolation plans can be found in Annex C.
  • AIR OPERATORS notify every passenger that (in force at 12 pm EDT, April 20, 2020):
    • they must be in possession of mask or face covering (Annex D) prior to boarding;
    • they must wear the mask or face covering at all times during the flight when they are 2 metres or less from another; person unless both persons live in the same private dwelling-house or other place that serves that purpose; and
    • they must comply with any instructions from a crew member with respect to wearing the mask or face covering.
  • PASSENGERS must confirm that they are in possession of a mask or face covering (in force at 12 pm EDT, April 20, 2020 - see section Health Check and Face Covering Verification)

Step 2. Health Check and Face Covering Verification (Questions) – Recommended to be conducted during the online or at airport check-in process (see section Process for Health Check and Face Covering Verification):

  • AIR OPERATORS ask passengers the health check questions, the additional questions and whether they have in their possession a mask or face covering.
  • PASSENGERS answer each health question, including the additional questions and must confirm that they are in possession of a mask or face covering.

Step 3. Observations – Must be conducted during the boarding process (see section Process for Health Check and Face Covering Verification):

  • AIR OPERATORS observe whether passenger boarding the flight exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
  • AIR OPERATORS verify that every passenger boarding the flight is in possession of a mask or face covering (in force at 12 pm EDT, April 20, 2020).

Step 4. In-flight – To be conducted as appropriate and in accordance with the Interim Order:

  • AIR OPERATORS require passengers to wear a face mask during the flight when the person is 2 metres or less from another person, unless both persons are occupants (subject to the list of exceptions contained in the Interim Order).

Process for Notification (Domestic and Outbound Flights)

The pre-board notification process can be done online, at automated check-in kiosks, by agents at the check-in counter, or any other means, at the discretion of the air operator. However, it is recommended that the passenger be made aware of the requirement to have a mask or face covering in their possession prior to arriving at the airport.

PRE-BOARD NOTIFICATION TO DOMESTIC PASSENGERS

In order to manage the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada, along with the provinces and territories have put in place some new measures.

Prior to boarding this flight you will be required to undergo a health check and a verification that you have a face covering or mask to cover your mouth and nose This will involve answering a few simple questions to which you must answer truthfully. Providing a false or misleading answer could result in a maximum fine of $5,000.

The Government of Canada is requiring that all travellers have a removable face covering or non-medical mask to cover their mouth and nose for use through the airport and in-flight to prevent the inadvertent spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. Travellers must wear their face mask at all times when they are 2 metres or less away from another person, other than a member of their household, or when directed to do so by an airline official, a security screening checkpoint officer, a Canada Border Services officer or a Canadian public health official.

As a reminder, no person should board a flight when they are feeling ill as this could potentially put others at risk. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while in flight, please notify the flight crew immediately. 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. For the following provinces or territories: [NAME provinces or territories in ANNEX C], self-isolation plans must be submitted and reviewed by provincial/territorial authorities before a traveller will be allowed to return home. Please remember to check online information for your final destination point.

PRE-BOARD NOTIFICATION TO OUTBOUND PASSENGERS

In order to manage the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada has put in place some new measures.

Prior to boarding this flight you will be required to undergo a health check and a verification that you have a face covering or mask to cover your mouth and nose This will involve answering a few simple questions to which you must answer truthfully. Providing a false or misleading answer could result in a maximum fine of $5,000.

The Government of Canada is requiring that all travellers have a removable face covering or non-medical mask to cover their mouth and nose for use through the airport and in-flight to prevent the inadvertent spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. Travellers must wear their face mask at all times when they are 2 metres or less away from another person, other than a member of their household, or when directed to do so by an airline official, a security screening checkpoint officer, a Canada Border Services officer or a Canadian public health official.

As a reminder, no person should board a flight when they are feeling ill as this could potentially put others at risk. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while in flight, please notify the flight crew immediately.

Process for Health Check and Face Covering Verification (Domestic Flights and Flights Departing Canada)

The management of ill travellers at Canadian aerodromes in the context of the current COVID-19 disease outbreak includes the following steps:

  1. Notification of Requirement for Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering: Passengers are responsible for having an appropriate non-medical mask or face covering for their journey, however, they will need plenty of advance notification and reminders to do so. This can be done at the time of ticket purchase, through advance messaging, and/or during any online check-in. The non-medical mask or face covering is to be used during the flight when the passenger cannot be separated by 2 metres or more from others who are not part of their household, or used at the direction of flight crew. Although operators have implemented a number of measures to provide greater physical distancing, there are still points in the passenger journey that prevent people from maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres. These can include at the screening checkpoint, when handing over identification and other documents to confirm identity, or on board when passengers are seated close to one another. For this reason, all passengers are required to carry with them a removable face covering or mask, for use when directed to do so by a CATSA officer at the screening check point, while boarding or on board when directed by an air operator. Passengers should be ready to cover their mouth and nose during their journey, especially in circumstances where 2 metres of physical separation cannot be observed. A pre-board notification to passengers can be found in the previous section. For more information on removable non-medical masks or face coverings, see Annex D.
  2. Detection of ill travellers (Visual observation) – Air operators are required to observe and do a health check of all air travellers before they board the aircraft. 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 asking the traveller the questions or via an electronic check-in kiosk. The air operator must advise the air traveller that making a false or misleading response to the health check questions could result in a maximum fine of $5,000. 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.
  3. Confirmation that passenger has a removable mask or face covering (Visual observation) – air operators are to confirm that passengers are carrying a removable mask or face covering prior to boarding through a visual observation during the boarding process. Exceptions to the requirement to have an available removable face covering or mask include: infants, persons with trouble breathing unrelated to COVID-19, unconscious persons or those who would be unable to remove a face mask without assistance. Air operators should also feel free use their discretion when applying this requirement (e.g., persons with underlying mental or physical condition that would make it challenging for them to wear one).
  4. Denial of boarding – In the event that the air operator observes that the air traveller has COVID-19 symptoms or that their response to any of the questions on the health check indicates a need to deny boarding (including refusal to answer the questions), the air operator will be required to refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days 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. The air operator is also required to deny boarding if the air traveller refuses to confirm whether or not they have a removable mask or face covering in their possession or if during the boarding process, the air operator is unable to observe that the air traveller has a removable mask or face covering in their possession.
  5. Provide explanation for future travel – Air operators will explain to air travellers who are denied boarding, based on the health check or observation, that they will need to wait 14 days before they are able to fly 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.
  6. Advise air travellers to follow local health authorities related to COVID-19 – Air operators should advise air travellers who have been denied boarding, due to indicating or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, to follow the guidance/direction from their provincial/territorial health authorities for dealing with the COVID-19 infection.

Denied boarding due to COVID-19 symptoms?

  • Go immediately to a place where you can self-isolate for 14-days, and use private transportation such as a personal vehicle
  • Practice physical distancing by staying 2 metres (2 arm lengths) away from others
  • Practice frequent hygiene, including proper hand washing and coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue
  • Wear a face covering or mask over your mouth and nose at all times to protect others
  • Get more information about provincial and territorial services at: Canada.ca/coronavirus

Available COVID-19 resources:

Government of Canada: 1-833-784-4397 or visit Canada.ca/coronavirus

Provincial and territorial:

Questionnaire for Health Check and Face Covering Verification

Air operator staff should protect should themselves by maintaining more than 2 metres between themselves and travellers wherever possible, which is also known as social or physical distancing. Staff and travellers can also help reduce the inadvertent spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets by using a non-medical mask or face covering. This will help protect those around them, including their co-workers and passengers. Passengers can be also be instructed to cover their mouth and nose where appropriate, and so long as this does not otherwise impact their safety (e.g., during use of oxygen masks). Travellers should be generally encouraged to wear their face coverings whenever possible, but at a minimum should expect to be asked to cover their mouth and nose:

  • at Canadian airport screening checkpoints, where the screeners cannot always keep two metres of separation between themselves and the passenger;
  • when they cannot physically distance from others, such as in flight, or as directed by the airline employees; and
  • when directed to do so by a public health order or Public Health official.

If there is sufficient separation between people (i.e., two metres or six feet), passengers may be allowed to lower their face covering carefully, with clean hands, if possible. Air operators should exercise discretion to allow passengers to allow for eating, drinking and changing of the mask or face covering, or for individuals with special circumstances as warranted (e.g., fussy older child, special needs, etc.).

Staff should be instructed to encourage travellers to maintain more than 2 metres distance between themselves while in line. During the identity verification process, and as part of the visual observation that a passenger has an appropriate non-medical mask or face covering, passengers can be reminded to cover their mouth and nose before going up to the boarding gate counter. After handing over their identity documents and tickets to the air operator representative, a passenger should be asked to step back an appropriate distance, and lower their mask or face covering for a brief identity verification. After the identity verification is complete, the passenger can then re-cover their mouth and nose before collecting their documents from the air operator representative.

If the response (or non-response) to any of the five questions below results in the answer that is in bold, then a denial of boarding must be applied, in accordance with the Interim Order.

Before answering the following questions on the health check, I would like to advise you that providing a false or misleading answer could result in a maximum fine of $5,000.

  1. Do you have a fever and a cough? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
  2. Do you have a fever and breathing difficulty? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
  3. Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
  4. 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 air to reach your self-isolation location? If No explicit permission, deny boarding. If the passenger refuses to answer the question, deny boarding.
  5. Do you have a removable mask or face covering with which to cover your mouth and nose while moving through the airport and on board the flight? If NO, or if the passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.

Alternative to the above Health Check Questionnaire

If the air operator is already carrying out a health check process voluntarily or at the request of a province/territory, and wishes to submit an alternative health assessment process, the air operator may submit a request to Transport Canada for an exemption to the Interim Order.

Annex A: In-flight announcement for a Canadian domestic flight

In light of the global pandemic related to COVID-19, the Government of Canada, in cooperation with provincial/territorial public health authorities has put in place important measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Please be advised that many provinces and territories are asking all travellers, with some exceptions for essential services, to undergo self-isolation periods of up to 14 days to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Travellers are reminded that they must use their face covering or mask during their journey, whenever they are unable to distance from others by at least 2 metres. Stay safe and be informed about COVID-19 measures from Canadian national, provincial and territorial health authorities that apply in the region where you are heading.

Annex B: Pre-boarding identification requirements for domestic air travel

The Government of Canada is temporarily allowing, for domestic flights only, air carriers to accept government-issued identification that has expired after March 1, 2020. This temporary exemption is in effect until June 30, 2020.

Passengers will need to show one of these documents at the boarding gate:

  • one piece of photo identification issued by a Canadian federal, provincial or territorial government with the passenger’s full name and date of birth; or
  • two pieces of identification issued by a Canadian federal, provincial or territorial government. Both must have the passenger’s name and at least one must have the passenger’s full name and date of birth.

Examples of Canadian government-issued identification documents:

  • passport
  • citizenship card
  • Canadian permanent resident card
  • Canadian provincial or territorial driver's licence
  • Canadian provincial or territorial health card
  • Canadian provincial or territorial government identification cards
  • birth certificate
  • Record of Landing Form/Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292)
  • immigration documents issued to foreign nationals (e.g., Work Permit, Study Permit, Visitor Record, Temporary Resident Permit, Refugee Approved Status)
  • Canadian military identification
  • federal police identification
  • federal or provincial government employee identification cards
  • Old Age Security (OAS) identification card
  • Certificate of Indian Status (Status Card) issued by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • NEXUS card
  • firearms licence

The name on the passenger’s identification must match the name on their airline ticket and boarding pass. Visit travel.gc.ca for more information.

Annex C: Provincial/territorial self-isolation plans

Province/territory Requirement Exceptions

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, pursuant to section 28 of the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act has ordered that, effective April 27, 2020:

  • All individuals arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from outside the province must complete a declaration form and submit it to a representative of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as identified at their point of entry in the province;
  • All individuals arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from outside the province must provide specifics of their plan for complying with the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days following their arrival in the province; and
  • All individuals arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from outside the province must be available for contact with public health officials during the duration of the 14-day self-isolation period.

More information on these requirements can be found at: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/files/Special-Measures-Order-Amendment-No.-8-April-25-2020.pdf.

You can find a copy of the declaration and self-isolation forms at: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/files/Declaration-Self-Isolation-April-27.pdf.

For a list of exemptions to the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days, please see: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/public-health-orders/.

All workers and individuals subject to this Exemption Order are to practice appropriate social distancing, closely self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and self-isolate should symptoms develop.

British Columbia

On April 8, 2020, the Government of British Columbia announced that new mandatory self-isolation measures for 14 days are in place for all international travellers arriving in the province at all points of entry. Travellers from outside Canada must go directly to their place of resident upon arrival in the province. The new measures include that all travellers must legally provide a self-isolation plan for review by the province in advance of their arrival.

Self-isolation plans must consider the location of isolation, how the travellers will travel to the isolation location, and any additional support that the traveller may need such as food deliveries, prescriptions, child care, pet care or cleaning supplies. If a traveller does not present a self-isolation plan or does not have a location for self-isolation, provincial accommodation will be made available. Should the traveller not comply with self-isolation requirements and complete an isolation plan, they can face a fine up to $750,000 and/or six months in prison. Self-isolation plans are reviewed at the Vancouver International Airport, and land-border crossings (Peace Arch - Douglas, Pacific, Boundary Bay, and Osoyoos).

For additional information, please consult Self-Isolation on Return to B.C.

Workers exempt from the federal Quarantine Act do not have to create a self-isolation plan:

  • Air crew
  • Transportation crew on any plane, train, bus or marine vessel
  • A person invited by the federal Minister of Health to assist with the COVID-19 response
  • A member of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force
  • A person who provides an essential service
  • A person whose presence in Canada is in the national interest (as defined by federal Ministers)
  • A person permitted to work in Canada as a provider of emergency services
  • A person providing medical care or transporting essential medical equipment, supplies, or means of treatment
  • A person who enters Canada to receive essential medical services or treatments, other than services or treatments for COVID-19

Northwest Territories

Anyone arriving in the Northwest Territories (NWT) must self-isolate and stay at the self-isolation location for 14 days in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith only. No NWT resident is allowed to self-isolate in a small community or other regional centre, other than the four listed communities if they have returned from outside the NWT.

This is a measure to avoid overwhelming health centres in small remote communities, and ensure those exposed to COVID-19 are close to well-equipped hospital care.

Travellers will need to:

More information is available at: Government of NWT: information for travellers

These workers are considered exempt from travel restrictions but would have different isolation requirements when entering the NWT:

  • Persons providing services in the course of importation/ exportation of goods and other supply chain transportation workers;
  • Flight crews;
  • Persons engaged in providing essential services;
  • Persons engaged in providing support services to essential services workers;
  • Transient workers in the mineral and petroleum resources industry;
  • Persons involved in working on the construction of GNWT capital infrastructure projects;
  • Corrections Officers and inmates in transit;
  • Person travelling from Nunavut for medical travel;
  • Persons participating in traditional harvesting and on the land activities that cross the provincial border but do not enter any community
  • Persons otherwise exempted under exceptional circumstances by the Chief Public Health Officer.

Nunavut

Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO), has issued an order to prohibit most travel into Nunavut to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Starting Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m.: Only Nunavut residents and critical employees will be allowed into the territory.

Residents will have to provide proof of residency to be allowed to fly into Nunavut. Prior to returning to Nunavut, residents will be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period at a designated isolation site. Isolation sites are listed below. All accommodations, food and necessities for all travelers will be provided for free during the isolation period. At the end of the 14 days, residents with no symptoms will be cleared to return to their home community. This applies to all medical travel patients, students and all other residents wishing to return home.

Depending where they are travelling from, the Government of Nunavut will provide isolation at four different sites:

  • Ottawa, Ontario;
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba;
  • Edmonton, Alberta; or
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Travellers will be required to provide their clearance from the Chief Public Medical Officer and proof of Nunavut residency before being allowed to board the aircraft.

More information is available at: Government of Nunavut Department of Health COVID-19 resources page

The following are deemed to be exempted critical labour and do not need to produce any further proof:

  1. Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
  2. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces on active duty;
  3. Members of the Correctional Service of Canada or the Nunavut Department of Justice Corrections Division on active duty;
  4. Employees or agents of the Nunavut Department of Health escorting patients detained under orders pursuant to the Mental Health Act or the Public Health Act.

Note: Exceptions are not made for essential service workers who are coming from high risk areas where there is known community transmission of COVID-19.

Annex D: Removable non-medical masks or face coverings

It is important to understand that non-medical masks or face coverings have limitations and need to be used safely. Non-medical masks or face coverings are protective layers of absorbent fabric (e.g., cotton) that snugly fit over the nose and mouth and are secured to the face with ties or ear loops. They prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. Non-medical masks or face coverings alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. One must consistently and strictly adhere to good hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical (social) distancing.

Safe use of removable non-medical masks or face coverings

Removable masks or face coverings SHOULD:

  • Should be made of multiple layers of absorbent fabric (e.g., cotton)
  • Cover the mouth and nose (without big gaps)
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • Allow for easy breathing
  • Be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • Stay the same shape after machine washing and drying

Removable masks or face coverings SHOULD NOT:

  • Be placed on children under the age of 2
  • Be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  • Be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance
  • Be made exclusively of plastic sheeting or materials that easily fall apart (e.g., tissues)
  • Be shared with others
  • Impair vision or interfere with tasks

When using a removable mask or face covering:

  • wash hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practicing good hand hygiene while wearing it)
  • it should fit well (non-gaping)
  • allow for easy breathing
  • do not share it with others

When wearing a mask or face covering, take the following precautions:

  • avoid touching the face covering or mask while using it
  • change a cloth face covering or mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled
  • put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of
  • cloth face coverings or masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly
    • non-medical masks that cannot be washed should be discarded and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled
    • dispose of masks properly in a lined garbage bin

Poster on Face covering requirements for air travellers

Face covering requirements for air travellers

(PDF, 608 KB)

Poster on COVID-19 – Health Check for domestic air travel

Travelling by air in Canada? New COVID-19 restrictions in effect

(PDF, 133 KB)

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