Measures taken in response to COVID-19

As air travel increases and the airport environment becomes busier, CATSA continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation to ensure we follow necessary health and safety measures to deliver our mandate. 

CATSA’s priority remains the well-being of the screening officers and of those travelling through and working in Canadian airports. To that end, these health and safety measures remain in place at the checkpoint:

  • If you exhibit known COVID-19 symptoms such as a cough or difficulty breathing, you will be required to leave the checkpoint and return to the public area. 
  • Starting at the entrance to the checkpoint and throughout the screening process, we ask that you continue to try to allow two metres between yourself and other passengers.
  • You are asked to hold on to your own electronic or printed documents (boarding pass, Nexus card) while they are scanned.
  • You can carry one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 355 ml in addition to the 100 ml bottles to be placed in the 1 L clear resealable bag.
  • At major airports, additional hand sanitizing units are located at the checkpoints for use by the screening officers and the public.
  • Screening officers wear gloves and face masks at all positions at all checkpoints. They will add a face shield if the individual being screened cannot wear a face mask.
  • Screening officers change explosive trace detection swabs after each use.
  • Increased bin-cleaning frequency and the use of strong anti-viral cleaning products for bins and other surfaces around the checkpoint.

We have summarized these changes in a downloadable and printable infographic (PDF).

Face masks

All passengers and non-passengers must bring a face mask before entering the screening checkpoint. Acceptable face masks are those that cover the mouth, nose and chin; are made of multiple layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen); and are properly secured to the head. Face masks that allow for lip reading (where the portion of the mask in front of the lips is made of transparent material and the rest is tightly woven fabric) are permitted. Unacceptable face masks include a face shield (without a proper face mask); masks with an exhalation valve or vent; neck gaiters or bandanas; masks made with mesh or lace materials; and militaristic masks such as gas masks or face masks that cover the entire face. For more information on face masks please see Transport Canada’s information posters as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines on face masks, including instructions on how to make your own.

If you cannot wear a face mask for medical or health reasons, you must provide a medical certificate (such as this one) signed by a medical professional confirming that you are unable to wear a face mask. The signed medical certificate is required in order for a passenger to be permitted to board their flight. Children under two years of age are not required to wear a face mask. Children between two and six years of age who are unable to tolerate wearing a face mask will be permitted through screening without one.

Note that wearing a face mask does not replace the need to practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette and physical distancing of at least two metres.

Keeping a safe distance

CATSA continues to practice physical distancing at the checkpoints whenever possible for the safety of screening officers and of those going through the security checkpoint. The screening officers wear face masks and will add a face shield if the individual being screened cannot wear a face mask.

Passengers are asked to hold their own documents for scanning (e.g., boarding passes or NEXUS cards). If an alarm needs to be resolved during screening, passengers will be asked to place their personal items once again in the divest bin(s) as a first option to reduce the need for a physical search.

We have made physical adjustments at the checkpoints, including the installation of clear acrylic safety panels at most airports and instructional signage. At bag search stations, an additional table offers extra distance between the search officer and passenger.

While it is not always feasible to avoid contact during screening, these measures serve to minimize it as much as possible. It is also important to note that the screening process is transitory in nature and most interactions are brief, which public health experts have explained is a significant factor in reducing the risk of transmission. 

A common goal

Aviation is an essential service, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to go, and CATSA has taken every step possible to ensure this happens safely. The success of these efforts also depends upon the cooperation of passengers to wear face masks, maintain physical distancing whenever possible and complete their screening in a timely and safe manner – listening for instructions and cooperating with extra measures where necessary. CATSA’s goal is to ensure that everyone working in and travelling through airports does so as safely and securely as possible at this challenging time.

For the latest information on COVID-19, go to canada.ca/coronavirus.