Air passengers fined for not masking up

Air travel

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.