Via Rail to require passengers without masks to provide medical proof of exemption
A Via Rail employee climbs aboard a locomotive at the train station in Ottawa on December 3, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
TORONTO -- Via Rail will soon require all passengers not wearing a mask to provide a certificate stating that they are medically exempt from wearing one.
According to the rail line’s website, as of Nov. 9, passengers with a medical condition or disability “that makes it difficult to wear a mask must provide an official medical certificate along with a government-issued photo ID.”
The medical certificate must indicate the passenger’s full name, specifies that the passenger has a condition or disability that makes it hard to wear a mask and must be dated and signed on official letterhead issued by a health-care provider.
Children under the age of two are exempt from this policy.
Via Rail’s new stance on masks mirrors Transport Canada’s mask policy for airline passengers. Transport Canada does not have a formalized policy for other modes of transportation, but has instead left it to the individual operators.
Wearing a face mask, maintaining a physical distance of two metres, and frequent handwashing are among the most effective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone with trouble breathing or who has a hard time taking off a mask without assistance should not be wearing a mask. Additionally, the agency notes that people with “intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other sensory sensitivities” may also find it difficult to wear a mask.