Two passengers fined $1,000 each after refusing to wear masks on WestJet flights

OTTAWA — Transport Canada has fined two airline passengers for refusing to wear face masks on board.

The travellers were fined $1,000 each after ignoring repeated directions from cabin crew to put on their face coverings, the department said Friday.

The first incident occurred on a WestJet flight from Calgary to Waterloo, Ont., in June and the second on a WestJet trip from Vancouver to Calgary in July.

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20 as part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fines mark the first time passengers have received a financial penalty for refusing to don a mask, Transport Canada said.

The announcement comes three days after WestJet announced a strict new policy to ensure passengers wear face coverings, with consequences for refusal that include a year-long travel ban.

Since March, at least 973 flights have carried passengers with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Canada, according to figures provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Some 378 domestic and 595 international flights between March 2 and Aug. 24 flew travellers who “may have been exposed to COVID-19” on board, the agency said in an email.

Some flights may have had more than one positive case reported and a given case may have travelled on more than one flight, the agency said.

The figures, gathered through reports from provincial and territorial health authorities, are not exhaustive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 4, 2020

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