BC concerned about airlines' stop of physical distancing

Not happy with feds, airlines

British Columbia's provincial health officer is "concerned" about recent announcements by WestJet and Air Canada that they will remove physical distancing requirements for passengers onboard aircraft.

Dr. Bonnie Henry responded to questions about the move during Monday's provincial COVID-19 briefing, saying the issue is out of her hands, given airlines are the jurisdiction of Transport Canada. 

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says he's expecting to see a very clear explanation from federal government outlining their stance on the airlines' decision to remove spacing measures from July 1.

"What I'd like to hear from Transport Canada, and what I'd like to hear from Health Canada, is 'do they agree with this?' Because it is absolutely within their jurisdiction to deal with. So if what they are saying is (that) what Air Canada and WestJet are doing is acceptable, they need to be explicit and they need to explain why it is."

Continuing to guard against the spread of COVID-19 is the most important summer memory we could create, says Dix. 

"While B.C. travel is a welcome break from the local places we know, it is not a holiday from the skills we’ve been taught to stop the spread. In fact, as we travel to new places and those we’ve not seen for a while, we need to be even more dedicated to the actions we’ve been taking to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"Physical distancing must always be our closest companion. Physical distancing saves lives ... it will be our expectation as we are doing in BC, as we are doing in provincial jurisdiction, that the federal government will do the same in terms of ensuring that people are safe and employing physical distancing as required, especially in places where they’re together for a long time such as airplanes."

Henry reminded residents and travellers to maintain a sense of personal responsibility during the pandemic, including cancelling travel plans if you are ill or feeling unwell and being honest when answering symptom questions. 

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