WestJet is implementing a strict new policy to ensure passengers wear masks on board planes, including the possibility of banning travel for a year if they refuse to comply. The airline is also requiring all flyers to provide their contact information during check-in to help with contact tracing if an infected passenger is on same the flight.
The policy, applicable to all WestJet flights as well its budget subsidiary Swoop, builds on the mandatory on-board mask rule imposed by Transport Minister Marc Garneau in April to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He said WestJet’s new mask policy marks an attempt to show they are serious about passenger health, who are almost unanimously in favour of such precautions on board.
Starting Sept. 1, refusal to wear a mask by customers over the age of two will be met with a three-step process, WestJet said. Flight attendants will first ask them to put on a mask and then give a warning that face coverings are required.
If passengers continue to refuse, cabin crew will notify them that they are being placed on a no-fly list for travel on any WestJet aircraft for 12 months.
“Masks are mandated by our regulator and the vast majority of our guests are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying. This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don’t,” chief executive Ed Sims said in a statement.
“Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines.”
Exposure on two Westjet flights from Calgary to Halifax
Passengers on two recent flights from Calgary to Halifax may have been exposed to COVID-19, Nova Scotia public health officials said Sunday.
In a statement, the province said the first potential exposure occurred on WestJet flight WS-232 on Aug. 24, which landed in Halifax at 5:14 p.m. that day.
Authorities said passengers in rows 20 through 24, seats A, B, C and D, are more likely to have been exposed to COVID-19.
They said those passengers should call 811 for advice and that all passengers on the flight should self-monitor for any symptoms.
The second potential exposure took place on WestJet flight WS-232 from Calgary to Halifax on Aug. 26, the public health agency said.
The province said passengers in rows 21 through 26, seats A, B and C, are more likely to have been exposed to COVID-19 on that flight, and should call 811 for advice.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.
Five cases remain active in the province, which has reported a total of 1,083 positive cases and 65 deaths since the pandemic began.
More than 560 flights with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 arrived at or departed from Canadian airports in the six months between February and July, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.