TORONTO – The transportation sector has been seriously impacted by COVID-19. Social distancing will reduce passenger capacity as service resumes for rail passengers, air travelers and bus transportation. It will also likely be sometime before passenger numbers approach pre-pandemic numbers.
As of June 23, passengers of VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) will be required to wear a mask, in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, when the appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained.
This is necessary as the economy is gradually reopening and VIA Rail sees an increase in ridership and as the safety and well-being of both our employees and our passengers remains our top priority.
In addition, masks will be mandatory for VIA Rail customer-facing employees.
This new recommendation is in line with the latest Transport Canada guidelines regarding masks or face coverings for planes, trains, ships, and public transit.
With this new mask policy, passengers will be:
- Required to wear a mask when appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained, in stations and at boarding;
- Required to wear a mask at all times during their trip, except for when they are eating or drinking
Passengers are strongly encouraged to bring their own masks. However, if they do not have one at boarding, VIA Rail will have a limited number of disposable masks available to provide them with one.
Passengers with medical conditions resulting in trouble breathing unrelated to COVID-19, infants under two years old and small children, or anyone unable to remove a mask without assistance will not be required to wear one.
For more information on VIA Rail’s new mask policy, please visit our website.
FLEXIBILITY FOR OUR PASSENGERS
All passengers with reservations affected by the suspension of services will be contacted and reimbursed automatically. To facilitate cancellations and refunds, we have extended our cancellation policy to include all travel through November 1, 2020, to allow passengers to cancel their upcoming reservations autonomously online at any time prior to departure and receive a full refund in addition to not incurring any service charges, regardless of when the ticket was purchased.
Alternatively, customers may contact the VIA Customer Centre by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (1-888-842-7245), TTY 1-800-268-9503 (hearing impaired). Due to the current situation related to COVID-19, the VIA Customer Centre is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET daily.
Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth is one more way we can protect one another and will help us safeguard the travel experience of our customers and employees. As we start to ramp up service levels in response to the growth in demand, all enhanced health safety measures introduced during the pandemic will be maintained, including enhanced cleaning, pre-boarding screening of travelers, modified onboard services, and reduced capacity in each car to allow for greater physical distancing and minimize the risks.
VIA Rail continues to adjust its operations and deploys a strict protocol of sanitary measures onboard its trains, in its stations, maintenance centres and call centres in response to the pandemic and in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Furthermore, we constantly remind our passengers and employees of the importance of following the recommendations of public health authorities, to avoid non-essential travel, practice physical distancing as much as possible, and to rigorously follow good hygiene practices (wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of their arm, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth without first washing their hands).
Passengers will be denied boarding our trains if they are experiencing symptoms similar to a cold or flu (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) or if they have been denied boarding for travel in the last 14 days due to medical reasons related to COVID-19.
We continue to monitor the developments of COVID-19 and we remain in close contact with public health agencies and the federal and provincial governments.