Ottawa to keep mask requirement for travelers after US dropout rule: Transport Minister

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has given no indication that his government plans to scrap its masking requirement for air and rail passengers in Canada anytime soon.

“We are constantly consulting our experts and whenever the advice we receive changes because circumstances change, we will change our regulations,” he said on Tuesday. “But for now, that’s how it is.”

His comments came after a Florida federal judge overturned a Biden administration requirement that passengers wear face coverings on planes and public transportation.

WATCH: Canada’s transport minister reacts to US court ruling to end mask mandate on domestic planes and trains

Canada’s transport minister reacts to US court ruling to end mask mandate on domestic planes and trains

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said despite the US decision, Canada’s mask mandate for trains and planes is still in effect. 1h30

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) failed to justify the mask mandate and failed to follow proper regulatory procedures.

On Monday evening, the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the masking requirement. Airlines and airports across the United States quickly began to repeal their masking requirements for passengers.

Responding to a question from reporters in Calgary, Alghabra would not comment on the U.S. decision, but said the Canadian government bases its decisions on science and data.

“Masks have been proven to provide additional layers of protection and we will continue to follow the advice of our public health experts,” he said.

“I don’t welcome these regulations except knowing that they are made to protect everyone’s health and safety.”

WATCH: Trudeau answers questions about lifting mask mandates on trains and planes

Trudeau answers questions about lifting mask mandates on trains and planes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will continue to follow the science on mask mandates. 2:03

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about his government’s masking requirements at a press conference later today. He largely echoed the comments of his transport minister.

“People want to stay safe, but they also want to get back to the things they love. And the best way to do that is to look at what science tells us, what experts tell us, and make sure you that we are moving forward in the right direction,” he said.

The federal government requires passengers to be fully immunized with accepted vaccines before boarding domestic or international flights departing from most airports in Canada. It also requires passengers to wear masks inside airports and rail terminals and on planes and trains.

A Canadian official – speaking in the background because he was not authorized to speak officially – said the government contacted airline operators on Monday night to say Canada’s mask requirements would still apply.

Tam recommends mask use despite some provinces dropping mandates

While a number of provinces have lifted their mask mandates, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, is advising Canadians to continue masking indoors.

“We are seeing this resurgence, whether you call it the sixth wave or how many waves there are in your local jurisdiction, it is a resurgence,” she said during a briefing the week. last.

“Wear a mask anyway, whether it’s the province… [or] the local jurisdiction recommends it or not.”

The CDC recently extended the mandate of the mask – which was due to expire on Monday – until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the United States.

“It’s obviously a disappointing decision,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday of the Florida court case. “The CDC recommends wearing a mask on public transportation.”