BC Ferries passengers challenge fines for not wearing mask

Three people from British Columbia have launched legal challenges of fines imposed for travelling on BC Ferries without masks, in defiance of COVID-19 regulations.

They are among a small number of people penalized for breaking COVID-19 rules who have filed appeals with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, a federal body that adjudicates disputes over violations of air, rail and maritime regulations.

Transport Canada won’t provide details on the number of fines issued under the federal mandates for masks, COVID-19 tests and vaccinations in transit, but the cases become public when an appeal to the tribunal is launched.

All three infraction notices said the ferry passengers failed to obey crew directions to wear a face covering or provide proof of a medical exemption..

Tara and Jonathan Macart, both of Qualicum Beach, B.C., were each fined $1,950 for not wearing masks on the Queen of Oak Bay ferry from Nanaimo, B.C., to Horseshoe Bay, B.C., in October 2020, according to notices of violation issued by Transport Canada.

The Macarts run a naturopathic medicine clinic in Qualicum Beach, according to the company’s website. Neither could be reached for comment.

Karla Rothweiler, of Chemainus, B.C., was fined $1,050 for the same infraction on the same ferry trip. In a Facebook message, she called the information “incorrect” but did not provide more detail.

BC Ferries began requiring passengers to carry face masks, and to wear them when two metres of distance from other passengers cannot be maintained, in June 2020.

The Macarts’ videoconference hearing before the tribunal is scheduled for September 19 and Rothweiler’s on September 22.

The same tribunal was scheduled to hear an appeal of $100,000 fines assessed against American Airlines for allowing four passengers to board a flight from Dallas, Texas, to Calgary without providing proof of a negative PCR test. But the airline and Transport Canada agreed to settle the matter last month.