No Transport Canada temperature checks yet in N.B. airports

Temperature screenings, an effort to detect possible cases of COVID-19, are now in place at 15 Canadian airports, Transport Canada announced, but so far, none are in New Brunswick.

Eleven airports designated as the “busiest” were added last week; two of those are in Atlantic Canada – St. John’s and Halifax.

“All passengers departing from these airports are required to undergo temperature screening before proceeding to the screening checkpoint,” the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority stated in a news release. Temperatures are taken by either a scanning camera or by a contactless, hand-held thermometer.

“Passengers with temperatures below 38 degrees Celsius, the threshold set by Transport Canada, are able to proceed to the checkpoint,” and those with temperatures at or above 38 degrees Celsius need to either produce a medical certificate specifically indicating an elevated temperature is not due to COVID-19 or take the test again in 10 minutes, CATSA stated in the release. A second failure results in a passenger not being able to travel and needing to re-book for 14 days or later, said Transport Canada.

The screening is in addition to COVID-19 screening questions and mandatory face coverings already in place for all passengers.

A number of airline operators including Air Canada and WestJet, who fly regularly out of New Brunswick airports, have been conducting temperature checks of their own for several months.

Kate O’Rourke, manager of public relations for Fredericton International Airport, said temperature checks are being conducted at the Fredericton airport, even though it does not yet have CATSA temperature screenings.

As a result, these “arriving passengers will have completed a temperature screening prior to boarding their flight, and are also screened by Public Health officials on arrival at YFC,” said O’Rourke.

Derrick Stanford, president and CEO of Saint John Airport, told Brunswick News that Saint John is looking forward to temperature screening operated by CATSA being introduced to airports of this province’s size.

Julie Pondant, corporate communications specialist for Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport, said many airports, Moncton’s among them, would like to see a national standard related to screening. She said she has not heard if Moncton’s airport will be included in the next round of airports with temperature screenings administered by CATSA, although she added it makes sense to implement this at the largest airports first.

However, many airlines and all employees at this airport are doing temperature checks of their own. All passengers de-boarding at this airport are also being screened by public safety officers in New Brunswick, a process which involves posing COVID-19 screening questions and temperature checks, she said.

A new plan for COVID-19 testing is also in the works, said Pondant, and the industry is waiting to see if money ear-marked for this will go to airports and if so, which ones will be included.

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TORONTO STAR