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Tuesday,  March 5, 2024 7:04 AM 

Can’t wear a mask for medical reasons? Prove it with a doctor’s note – or don’t fly: Transport Canada

Can’t wear a mask for medical reasons? Prove it with a doctor’s note – or don’t fly: Transport Canada
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

For several months now, it’s been mandatory that all air travellers wear non-medical masks or face coverings during airport screenings, while boarding planes, and during flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But up until recently, the rules for passengers who can’t wear face masks due to a medical condition have been somewhat foggy.

In an order issued on Friday (Aug. 7th), Transport Canada cleared the air, confirming that passengers who can’t wear a face mask due to medical reasons must prove it by presenting a doctor’s note that specifies that they are, indeed, exempt from the rules.

If one cannot present legitimate medical certificate, they will, in turn, be denied boarding.

Air passengers in Canada have been required to cover their face and nose since April 20th.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Passengers can, for example, remove their face masks while eating or drinking, or taking oral medication. Infants are also not required to wear masks.

WestJet posted a tweet on Monday (Aug. 10th), offering its support for the new order.

“…effective Aug 11 any guest who is unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition must present an official medical note from a physician specifying their exemption to the regulation to be permitted to fly,” the airline stated on its Twitter account. 

To that end, WestJet also tweeted that its customers have been doing an “excellent job” at adhering to the face mask directive so far.

According to an advisory posted on WestJet’s website, a medical note must: 

  • be issued by a medical professional
  • be on official letterhead
  • be dated
  • clearly state your name and that you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask

The reasons why one may not be able to wear a mask while flying are varied. For example: people who have trouble breathing from a lung condition may be exempt from the rules. 

The Canadian government defines a face mask as “any non-medical mask or face covering that is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material such as cotton or linen, is large enough to completely cover a person’s nose and mouth without gaping and can be secured to a person’s head with ties or ear loops.”

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