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Canada retains mask mandate for public transport

Published on Apr 20, 2022 12:38 PM IST

Canada will not follow the US and the mandate will remain in place for passengers at airports, railway stations, as well as on board planes and trains and other public transit

An outdated sign requiring Delta Air Lines passengers to wear a face mask to board a plane is displayed in the domestic terminal of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after Biden's administration announced that it will no longer enforce a U.S. mask mandate on public transportation, following a Florida court ruling, in Atlanta, Georgia, US. (REUTERS)

Canada on Tuesday said it will keeping the mask mandate in place for public transportation, including airplanes, for the forseeable future, despite a similar rule being dropped in the US.

Policymakers in Washington had decided last week to extend the federal mask mandate through May 3, but a US federal judge struck that down on Monday.

However, Canada will not follow suit and the mandate will remain in place for passengers at airports, railway stations, as well as on board planes and trains and other public transit.

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Speaking to reporters in Calgary on Tuesday, transportation minister Omar Alghabra refused to comment on the US court decision, but said, “Masks are proving to provide additional layers of protection”, adding that the “regulation is in place and is based on the advice we receive from our experts”.

The issue was also addressed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a media interaction at an event, in Dalhousie, New Brunswick, related to health care. Trudeau said, “As we look at entering this new phase of the pandemic, that features both the sixth wave of the second variant of Omicron, but also a loosening of restrictions in many places across the country, we have to get that balance right.”

The mandate will continue to apply for international travellers coming to Canada, including from India.

In fact, despite the quarantine requirement being waived for fully vaccinated travellers, they are still expected to remain masked in indoor public areas for a period of two weeks after their arrival.

Wearing of masks has also been supported by federal public health officials even though such mandates have been eased in several jurisdictions including provinces like Ontario.

Many provinces have also eased the controversial vaccine mandates, but Ottawa has retained them. In February this year, the Trudeau government imposed an emergency to quell anti-mandate protests as the Freedom Convoy occupied the capital city. That contentious move is still being contested in courts by civil rights groups.

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