Mandatory temperature checks coming to St. John's airport by end of September

·2 min read

The St. John's International Airport Authority says mandatory temperature checks will be in place for travellers in Newfoundland and Labrador by the end of September.

Chief administrative officer Peter Avery told The St. John's Morning Show on Wednesday they don't have any exact date for the start of the temperature screening, which will be done by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

"Anybody with a temperature above 38 degrees [C] will be required to rebook 14 days later."

Avery said people who fail a test will be able to take a second test 10 minutes later. If they fail a second time, they will have to retrieve their bags and rebook with their airline.

He said the screening routine will look similar to other facilities that perform temperature screening, scanning the traveller's forehead with a handheld thermometer.

"I think it's going to be fairly seamless," Avery said. "It will be done at the security screening checkpoint, so where you have your boarding pass checked before you go through security screening.… I don't imagine it will cause too much of a backlog."

The screening is mandated by the federal government, so travellers don't have a choice, he said. Screening is already in place at airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

"Some airlines have already implemented their own temperature screening ahead of the federal government. So I would say the only option they have is to rebook, unless they can produce a medical certificate that can otherwise demonstrate that the elevated temperature they have is not COVID-related."

Airport sees uptick, but still far behind last year

Since the opening of the Atlantic bubble on July 3, Avery said, the airport has seen a small uptick in passengers.

The airport reduced its workforce by 15 per cent due to lost revenue during the pandemic in July, with June seeing a decrease in passengers of over 92 per cent from the same month last year. Even with the uptick, traffic is not what the airport is not what it's used to seeing this time of year.

Eddy Kennedy/CBC
Eddy Kennedy/CBC

"The Atlantic bubble is only a fraction. Maritime travel in the summer is only a fraction. Of course most of our travel during the summer comes from Central and Western Canada, but we have seen the numbers increase over June."

Avery said the airport doesn't have official passenger numbers for July yet, but estimated traffic was around 90 per cent lower than last July.

"We don't know what the end in sight is, of course. With continued travel restrictions, particularly with our province having the most stringent restrictions in Canada, we really don't know where the end of this is," he said.

"What we hope is that [restrictions] would be lifted so we don't have a more pronounced effect in the fall."

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