WestJet has introduced a zero-tolerance policy in support of the requirement for all passengers, over the age of two, to wear masks and face coverings.
Non-compliant passengers will face penalties including denied boarding, return of the aircraft to the gate to offload the passenger, and the suspension of travel on any WestJet Group aircraft for up to one year.
The move comes as, coincidentally, 16 passengers on a Tui flight from Greece to the UK tested positive for COVID-19 after it was reported that mask-wearing recommendations were widely flouted. The 193 passengers and crew who were onboard the flight from Zante to Cardiff are being asked to self-isolate for a fortnight.
Ed Sims, WestJet Group president and ceo, 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. Masks are mandated by our regulator and the vast majority of our guests 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.”
Non-compliance onboard the aircraft will be managed through a three-step process: 1) Passengers will first be asked to put the mask on in a discussion with cabin crew. 2) Passengers will be given a warning that masks are required, and compliance is necessary. 3) Passengers will receive notice that non-compliance will result in follow up notification that they will be placed on a no-fly list for 12-months.
Since April 20, 2020, 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. Complete guidelines on non-medical masks are available here.
WestJet Group has also announced the mandatory input of all guests’ contact information at online and kiosk check-in to help the Public Health Agency of Canada and the provincial public health agencies across Canada with contact tracing in the case of infected individuals onboard. The group includes WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop.