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Trudeau spotted maskless on train
#1      Trudeau, one of the only Western leaders to mandate masks on trains, spotted maskless on train
Tristin Hopper - Yesterday 4:17 p.m.        Despite heading one of the only Western governments to still mandate face masks on rail transport, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was conspicuously maskless as he shook hands during a Monday photo op aboard an Okanagan, B.C., steam train.

The prime minister was not breaking any laws; the Kettle Valley Steam Railway is a heritage railroad not bound by federal transport regulations. However, the visit led to cries of hypocrisy nonetheless as COVID presumably can spread just as easily on tourist trains as aboard VIA Rail trains.  As Transport Canada warned just last month , passengers can be ejected from a train and even get hit with a $5,000 fine if they’re caught maskless during the journey — or even within a station during a stop.

This is a particularly onerous requirement on some of VIA Rail’s longer cross-country routes; a trip from Vancouver to Toronto takes a minimum of four days and four nights. As VIA Rail notes in official warnings to its passengers, the only exception is “temporarily when eating or drinking.”

The scientific rationale for all this is increasingly questionable. While masking is generally a good way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses within enclosed spaces, the federal government remains agnostic on what kinds of masks actually get worn.

With the rise of far more infectious COVID variants such as Omicron, some public health professionals have generally advised only bothering with fit-tested N95 face masks.

Regardless, Transport Canada mask mandates require only a loose-fitting cloth mask, a covering that provides vanishingly small viral protection — particularly within the well-ventilated confines of an airplane cabin or train car.    Canada’s continued insistence on train masking is also increasingly out of step with peer countries, including the ones with dramatically higher rates of passenger rail travel. For more than two months now, mask mandates have been non-existent on passenger rail throughout most of the European Union, with Germany, Italy and Spain still requiring medical-grade masks on trains.

England dropped mandatory masks from its trains back in October, and in the United States the policy ended due to an April court ruling.

“While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome,” reads the most recent masking guidelines from Amtrak, the U.S. equivalent to VIA Rail.

The wearing of masks on federally regulated trains is even anomalous within the Canadian context. As the maskless Kettle Valley Steam Railway shows; provinces have long ago abandoned mandates on indoor masking. The Kettle Valley railway hasn’t been subject to mandatory face coverings since March 11 , when the province of B.C. dropped all indoor mask mandates.

The situation is much the same at all the other Canadian railroads which operate outside federal jurisdiction. Most notably, masks are optional on all of Canada’s major light rail transit system, including the Vancouver SkyTrain, the Toronto subway and the Montreal Metro.

The Monday photo op in Summerland, B.C, was part of a surprise prime ministerial visit to the Okanagan that included drop-ins on a family farm and a cherry processing facility. It’s all part of a summer series of impromptu goodwill appearances by Trudeau.

But it wouldn’t be the first time that Trudeau’s seemingly arbitrary adherence to COVID masking has drawn notice.

Trudeau has long observed COVID-19 masking protocols which — while obeying local health regulations to the letter — often make little epidemiological sense.

One reoccurring example is that Trudeau has previously been seen in Canada wearing a mask even while alone or in an outdoor area, only to then enthusiastically ditch all masking once in a foreign country without similar mandates.
As far back as October, Trudeau was going maskless in a Netherlands bar with the country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, before abruptly redonning the mask while taking part in an outdoor ceremony at Rideau Hall a few days later.
Another Do as I say not as I do person.

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