Two passengers fined $1,000 each after refusing to wear masks on WestJet flights

Two passengers fined $1,000 each after refusing to wear masks on WestJet flights

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights and in terminals since April 20

  • Sep. 4, 2020 2:30 p.m.

Two airline passengers each face fines of $1,000 for refusing to wear face masks on board a flight, the first time Transport Canada has imposed a financial penalty for violating rules meant to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first incident occurred on a WestJet flight from Calgary to Waterloo, Ont., in June and the second on a WestJet trip from Vancouver to Calgary in July.

“In both incidents, the individuals were directed repeatedly by the air crew to wear their face coverings during the flights and in both cases, the individuals refused,” the aviation regulator, which did not name the passengers, said Friday.

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights and in terminals since April 20 as part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic. Exceptions include travellers who are under two years old, who are eating or drinking or who have breathing difficulties.

The announcement comes three days after WestJet announced a strict new policy to ensure passengers wear face coverings, with consequences for refusal that include a year-long travel ban.

The move is part of a push by airlines to coax Canadians back to the skies amid the ongoing implosion of the global travel industry.

Air Canada and WestJet have each announced pilot projects to test passengers for the coronavirus this fall, with the ultimate goal of furnishing “alternatives to the current blanket restrictions and quarantine” on foreign travellers and returning Canadians, respectively, Air Canada chief medical officer Dr. Jim Chung said in a statement Thursday.

Beefed-up sanitation protocols and no-contact check-ins comprise some of the changes on planes and in terminals, though both airlines scrapped their on-board seat distancing policies on July 1.

Transport Canada has listed physical distancing among the “key points” in preventing the spread of the virus, part of a guide it issued to the aviation industry in April.

“Operators should develop guidance for spacing passengers aboard aircraft when possible to optimize social distancing,” the document states.

Since March, at least 973 flights have carried passengers with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Canada, according to figures provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Some 378 domestic and 595 international flights between March 2 and Aug. 24 flew travellers who “may have been exposed to COVID-19” on board, the agency said in an email.

Some flights may have had more than one positive case reported and a given case may have travelled on more than one flight, the agency said.

The figures, gathered through reports from provincial and territorial health authorities, are not exhaustive.

Just Posted

RCMP looking for these two suspects
Police looking for suspects who stole truck in central Alberta

A Ford F350 was stolen out of Blackfalds on June 9. Two… Continue reading

An excavator is tearing up old parking lots at the Michener Centre north site. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Demolition gets underway at Michener Centre’s north site

Some people are nostaligic, but not everyone is sad to see it go

The Red Deer Indian Industrial school stood off Burnt Lake Trail and across the Red Deer River from Fort Normandeau. The residential school is known to have lost at least 70 students through illness, poor sanitation and nutrition. (Advocate file photo)
Some Indigenous leaders say SNC-Lavalin can’t make up to First Nations people with offer of help

Quebec company is connected to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould allegations

RCMP are looking for this 30-year-old missing woman.
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing woman

The Red Deer RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to locate… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) blocks a shot by Vegas Golden Knights left wing William Carrier (28) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday in Las Vegas. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Canadiens take 4-1 loss to Vegas Golden Knights in Stanley Cup semifinal opener

Golden Knights 4 Canadiens 1 (Las Vegas leads series 1-0) LAS VEGAS… Continue reading

Philadelphia 76ers' coach Doc Rivers yells to his players during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Young leads Hawks’ rally past Sixers with Embiid hurting

Hawks 103 76ers 100 ATLANTA — Trae Young overcame a cold start… Continue reading

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler pushes away Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Cariel Brooks during the second half of the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, November 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
CFL board of governors votes unanimously to start 2021 season in August after meeting

The CFL says professional football will return to Canada in August. The… Continue reading

Boston Red Sox's Rafael Devers looks toward teammates while celebrating after his winning RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Vlad Jr homers to tie it, Red Sox top Blue Jays in 9th, 2-1

BOSTON — Rafael Devers hit a line drive off the Green Monster… Continue reading

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the 'hockey hub' mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Experts divided on easing COVID-19 rules for fully vaccinated adults

As provinces accelerate their efforts to get their populations fully vaccinated against… Continue reading

In this artist's sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against man accused in London attack against Muslim family

A vehicle attack against a Muslim family in southwestern Ontario that left… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister, not shown, and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals move to cut debate, force vote on bill to implement 2021 budget

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals’ sweeping budget bill is moving faster to… Continue reading

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. A new study in England suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are extremely good at keeping people from ending up in the hospital with COVID-19, even after just one dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Pfizer, AstraZeneca preventing hospitalizations from Delta variant in Britain

OTTAWA — A new study in England suggests even just one dose… Continue reading

Most Read