WestJet is implementing a strict new policy to ensure passengers wear a mask on its flights, including the possibility of being denied travel for a year if they refuse.
The airline is also requiring the input of all passengers’ contact information at online and kiosk check-in to help with contact tracing in the case of infected individuals on board a flight. This applies to all WestJet flights under the WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop banners.
WestJet has six daily flights from Kamloops to Calgary, excluding Saturdays.
Passengers have been required to wear a mask during travel since April to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning on Sept. 1, the refusal to wear a mask on board one of its flights by passengers over the age of two will be managed through a three-step process. Passengers will first be asked to put a mask on in a discussion with cabin crew, then given a warning that masks are required and compliance is necessary. If passengers continue to refuse, WestJet said it will result in follow-up notification that they will be placed on a no-fly list for travel on any WestJet Group aircraft for 12 months.
WestJet Group chief executive Ed Sims says the vast majority of passengers are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying.
“This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don't. Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines,'' Sims said. "Canadian travellers and all of our WestJet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe and it is our utmost priority to do so.”
Since April 20, it has been mandatory for travellers to wear protective face coverings throughout their travel journey, including at the airport and while in flight and at the airport. As outlined by Transport Canada, travellers requiring an exemption to the regulation for health reasons must produce a certified medical note or will be subject to the measures as outlined.
Prior to flying, it is important travellers understand the current regulations and modifications to services in response to COVID-19. Travellers that wish to eat or drink while on board remain able to do so if they replace their mask once finished.
In a joint statement, Minister of Health Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the move to require contact information will "help immensly" as, to date, contact tracers have faced challenges reaching people who were exposed to the virus while flying. The health officals said contact tracing is one of the most efective ways of slowing the spread of COVID-19.