Unwilling to toe the US line, Canada decides to keep its mask mandate on planes, calling it a layered approach to keep travelers safe.
Peden Doma Bhutia
The Canadian government said Tuesday it has no plans to stop requiring masks on planes after a Florida judge struck down a US version of the law.
“We are taking a layered approach to keeping travelers safe, and masks remain an incredibly useful tool in our arsenal against Covid-19,” a spokesperson for Canada’s transport minister wrote in an email.
The spokesperson confirmed that masks will be mandatory on Canadian airlines and on flights to or from Canada. The federal government also requires travelers to wear masks and track close contacts for 14 days after arriving in Canada.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle overturned the U.S. mandate, which required masks on planes, trains and taxis, among other places, saying the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority.
In Canada, the landscape is different. Surveys have shown that masking is very popular. More than challenges to masking warrants, there is vocal opposition and legal challenges to lifting them.
Last week, an Ottawa school board introduced its own mask mandate after the province dropped its requirement. In a letter to parents, the council said students will not be suspended or expelled for non-compliance, but their parents may be called.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has not considered challenging Canada’s mask mandate, said its director of fundamental freedoms, Cara Zwibel.
“It’s hard to know, really, what right is somehow violated by a mask mandate” assuming medical exemptions were allowed, she said.
It’s “what the court would probably call ‘de minimis’ – it’s kind of a minor incursion.”
Zwibel said travel is one of the most justifiable places to impose these kinds of measures.
(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)