Transport Canada issues first $1,000 fines to air passengers who refuse face masks

Transport Canada has issued its first $1,000 fines towards air passengers who refuse to wear face masks onboard their flights, officials said today.

The federal ministry said two passengers - including one traveling from Vancouver to Calgary on a WestJet flight on July 7 - were issued the fines at $1,000 each for refusing to wear masks, the first instances in the country where Transport Canada has issued fines for offenders contravening the interim federal health order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The other offender fined was traveling on a June 14 flight from Calgary to Waterloo, Ont. The flight was also a WestJet service.

The Calgary-based airline began a firm zero-tolerance policy on face-masks wearing in September, noting that any passengers who refuse to wear masks for the entirety of the process (from airport check-in to traveling onboard and disembarking/leaving the airport) could face a one-year ban from flying WestJet.

“Under the interim order, all travelers must have a face covering with them prior to boarding,” Transport Canada said in a statement. “Travelers must wear their face coverings at all time while boarding, during the flight and from the moment the doors of the aircraft are opened until the person enters the air terminal building when they are two metres or less from another person.”

Passengers under the age of two are exempt, as are those with a certified doctor’s note excusing non-compliance. Passengers are also allowed to remove their masks when eating, drinking or taking medicine.