Measures taken in response to COVID-19

Over the last few months, the airport environment has experienced rapid change in tandem with the rest of the world in relation to COVID-19. CATSA is closely monitoring the situation to ensure we continue to deliver our mandate.

Within this evolving environment, CATSA’s priority remains the well-being of air travellers, screening officers and all others travelling through and working in Canadian airports, while offering the highest levels of security screening. To that end, we have made several changes:

  • 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 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 also 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 have been placed by the checkpoints to be used by the screening officers and the public.
  • All screening officers wear a face covering. They will add a face shield if the individual being screened cannot wear a face covering.
  • Screening officers are required to wear gloves at all times and change them often. Passengers can also request a screening officer change their gloves before they conduct a search of their belongings.
  • Screening officers now change explosive trace detection swabs after each use.
  • We have increased the bin-cleaning frequency and are using strong anti-viral cleaning products for bins and other surfaces around the checkpoint.

Face coverings - you must bring one and wear one

All passengers must bring a face covering and wear it over their mouth and nose before entering the screening checkpoint. You can use disposable or homemade facemasks, scarves, bandanas, or any type of material that covers your nose and mouth and is secured to your head. See the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines on face coverings, including instructions on how to make your own.

If you cannot wear a face covering for medical or health reasons, please let the screening officer know before going through the checkpoint. Children under two years of age are not required to wear a face covering.

Note that wearing a face covering 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 has made several changes to ensure physical distancing is maintained between screening officers and those going through the security checkpoint whenever possible. Screening officers will also remind all passengers to wear face coverings and maintain the recommended two-metre distance from each other while at the checkpoint. The screening officers themselves will also wear face coverings if required to conduct close-contact screening and will add a face shield if the individual being screened cannot wear a face covering.

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 re-divest their items as a first option to reduce the need for a physical search.

In some airports, CATSA has also placed markers on the ground to remind those waiting at the security checkpoint to respect the recommended two-metre distance whenever possible. We have made other physical adjustments, including the installation of instructional signage, leaving alternate lines closed at pre-board screening where possible and operating only two of four divest stations on CATSA Plus lines. 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 coverings, 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