CANADA Ottawa to maintain mask requirement for travelers after US...

Ottawa to maintain mask requirement for travelers after US drops rule: transport minister

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Travelers walk through Pearson airport, in Toronto, on Dec. 16, 2021. On Monday night, the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the masking requirement in that country. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is giving no indication his government plans to drop its masking requirement for air and train passengers in Canada in the near future.

“We constantly consult our experts and whenever the advice that we receive changes because the circumstances change, we will change our regulation,” he said Tuesday. “But for now, it is what it is.”

His comments came after a federal judge in Florida struck down a Biden administration requirement that passengers wear face coverings on airplanes and mass transit.

In her decision, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify the mask mandate and did not follow proper regulatory procedures.

On Monday night, the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the masking requirement. Airlines and airports across the US swiftly began to repeal their masking requirements for passengers.

Taking a question from reporters in Calgary, Alghabra wouldn’t comment on the US decision but said the Canadian government bases its decisions on science and data.

“Masks are proven to provide additional layers of protection and we will continue to follow the advice of our public health experts,” he said.

“The regulations continue that require carriers to require passengers to wear masks.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says his government’s mask mandate to measure for air and train passengers is based on science and data. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The federal government requires passengers to be fully vaccinated in order to board domestic or international flights departing from most airports in Canada. It also requires that passengers wear masks inside airports and rail terminals and while on board planes and trains.

The CDC recently extended the mask mandate — which was set to expire Monday — until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the US

“This is obviously a disappointing decision,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “The CDC is recommending wearing a mask on public transit.”

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