Air travellers to be checked for fevers at Canadian airports

Air travellers to be checked for fevers at Canadian airports

OTTAWA — Air travellers will need to have their temperatures checked before they’re allowed to board planes but the system will take months to set up, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Friday.

The measure is meant to keep COVID-19 from spreading as more people start flying again.

Garneau said the requirement will be phased in, starting with people boarding planes bound for Canada at the end of June. It will expand to the country’s four largest airports (in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary) by the end of July, and then 11 more airports serving mostly domestic travellers at the end of September.

The order for travellers heading into Canada from abroad is easy for the government to impose: airlines, many of which are already conducting such checks, are responsible for them. Within Canada, the checks will be done by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

“It will take us a little longer to purchase the equipment, set up the procedures, so we can screen people when they are departing on domestic flights,” Garneau said.

He said if a first check finds a would-be traveller has a fever, his or her temperature will be taken again in 10 minutes. Anyone found with a fever in both checks will not be allowed to fly and will be told to try again in 14 days.

“That’s an arbitrary but prudent amount of time,” Garneau said.

“We’re working with the airlines, the intention is that the rebooking would not be more expensive but just be a rebooking to a different date.”

Other costs associated with delaying a flight by two weeks will be up to travellers, however.

Canada has rules against allowing people on planes who have obvious symptoms of the novel coronavirus and screening forms meant to get travellers to self-report the possibility they are sick. But it has not been actively checking flyers for fevers, as many other countries have.

Not everyone with COVID-19 has a fever and not everyone with a fever has COVID-19 but Garneau said the fever checks add an extra layer of safety for others on planes and for people at travellers’ destinations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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