Most U.S. Airlines No Longer Require Masks — Here's What It Means For Canadian Travellers

You can now choose to wear a mask, or not, when taking planes, trains, or taxis in the States.

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
A person wearing a black mask looks out at a plane from inside an airport terminal.

A person wearing a black mask looks out at a plane from inside an airport terminal.

The next time you're flying with an American airline in the States, you'll get to decide whether to wear a mask or not. Although the Quebec mask mandate persists, a federal judge south of the border paused a nationwide rule on Monday, removing the mandate for compulsory face coverings on public transport, including planes, trains, taxis, and rideshare vehicles.

While the mask rule was set to expire in two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had continuously extended it during the pandemic and were expected to do so again. But Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was appointed by former U.S. President Donald Trump, ruled that the national public health agency was overstepping its authority.

Her decision does not extend to Canada, where a federal mask mandate remains in effect. For any flights with Canadian carriers that depart from or arrive in Canada, you'll still have to wear a mask while on the plane, except while eating, drinking, or taking medication. Children under six years old are exempt from the rule, along with people who cannot remove a mask without help, and those who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask (with official proof).

Flights with American carriers that enter Canada will have to enforce that rule as soon as they cross the border.

Masks remain a must in Canadian airports and travelers will still need to contact trace for two weeks after their return from a trip abroad. Passengers traveling on Canadian trains and taking other public transportation are also required to wear face coverings.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra confirmed that the federal government was sticking with the mandatory health regulation during a press conference on Tuesday.

Masks offer protection against the virus, he said, citing recommendations by public health officials. Alghabra said the government remains in regular contact with health experts and will adjust the regulation whenever it is deemed safe.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an award-winning writer, editor and former radio journalist with a passion for finding hidden gems in the city.
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