Following in the footsteps of many other travel companies, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) will require all passengers to wear a mask, when the appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained, starting Tuesday, June 23.
“This is necessary as the economy is gradually reopening and VIA Rail sees an increase in ridership and as the safety and well-being of both our employees and our passengers remains our top priority,” says the company in a release on Friday.
Masks will also be mandatory for all VIA Rail employees facing customers.
This new recommendation is in line with the latest Transport Canada guidelines regarding masks or face coverings for planes, trains, ships, and public transit.
The new mask policy means all passengers will be required to wear at all times during their trip, except for eating or drinking, and where appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained, in stations and at boarding.
VIA Rail will have a limited number of disposable masks available to all customers, but the company strongly suggests all passengers bring their own.
There are some exceptions to this new rule. Passengers with medical conditions resulting in trouble breathing unrelated to COVID-19, infants under two years old and small children, or anyone unable to remove a mask without assistance will not be required to wear one.
“As we start to ramp up service levels in response to the growth in demand, all enhanced health safety measures introduced during the pandemic will be maintained, including enhanced cleaning, pre-boarding screening of travellers, modified onboard services, and reduced capacity in each car to allow for greater physical distancing and minimize the risks,” said VIA Rail.
VIA Rail says it will continue to adjust its operations and deploy a strict protocol of sanitary measures onboard its trains, in its stations, maintenance centres and call centres in response to the pandemic and in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
The company says any passengers experiencing symptoms similar to a cold or flu (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) or if they have been denied boarding for travel in the last 14 days due to medical reasons related to COVID-19, will be denied boarding the trains.