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COVID-19 FAQ

Masks for passengers

All passengers and employees must wear a mask at all times in our stations and on board our trains, except temporarily when eating or drinking (you must put the mask back on immediately afterward).

Young children under the age of two are exempt from this preventive measure. Individuals with a medical condition or disability that makes it difficult to wear a mask are also exempt, as long as they present an official medical certificate and an ID (with or without a photo).

As of November 9, individuals with a medical condition or disability that makes it difficult to wear a mask must provide an official medical certificate along with an identification card (with or without a photo). The medical certificate must meet the following criteria:

  • Clearly indicates the passenger’s full name
  • Specifies that the person has a medical condition (unrelated to COVID-19 or any other infectious illness) or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask correctly. For example: “First name, Last name, cannot wear a mask while travelling due to medical or physical condition unrelated to COVID-19 or any other infectious condition.”
    - The nature of the medical condition preventing you from wearing the mask does not have to be stated on the certificate and does not have to be disclosed
  • Has been dated and issued by a healthcare provider on official letterhead with provider’s full name, license number, and phone number

Please note that the medical certificate may only be signed by a healthcare provider who is a member of a professional order with a license number such as a physician, nurse practitioner, dentist, physical assistant, physiotherapist, optometrist, psychologist, ophthalmologist or a psychiatrist.

For your protection and well-being and that of our employees, you are required to wear a medical mask, a non-medical mask, or a face covering made with at least two layers of protective absorbent fabric (e.g., cotton or linen). It must be large enough to cover your nose and mouth completely, without gaps, and be secured to the face with ties or ear loops.

Not allowed: Single-layer masks, scarves or bandanas, masks with exhalation valves and plastic masks will not be accepted, as they do not provide the level of protection required to limit the spread of the virus. Face shields may only be used in addition to a mask.

As masks are mandated by Transport Canada, failure to comply with these requirements will be considered misconduct that may result in sanctions and/or denial of boarding.

Passengers who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability must provide an official medical certificate along with an identification card (with or without a photo). More information

No. Masks must be worn at all times in our stations and on board our trains, except briefly when eating or drinking.

Physical distancing

Whenever possible, we are limiting the number of seats sold on most of our trains. However, if you’re travelling on one of our busier trains, it’s possible that you’ll be seated next to someone.

Your seat will be assigned only as you board, and not when you book your trip. If there’s a seat number indicated on your boarding pass, please ignore it. A VIA Rail agent will let you know where to sit when you board.

Signage and floor markings have been installed to promote physical distancing in all our stations and in business lounges where the seating capacity has been limited. Passengers are advised to maintain physical distancing during boarding, and masks must be worn at all times.

You may ask a crew member if you can change seats. They’ll do their best to accommodate your request if space is available.

We are limiting the number of seats sold on most of our trains. However, if you’re travelling on one of our busier trains, it’s possible that you’ll be seated next to someone.

If, once on board, you wish to change seats, please speak to one of our employees and they’ll do their best to accommodate your request.

Cleaning and air circulation

All hard surfaces in our cars, including vestibules, washrooms, tray tables, armrests, doors, walls, windows, and counters, are cleaned thoroughly and regularly. The cleaning products we use are approved by Health Canada and effectively eliminate the COVID-19 virus.

To ensure your safety and peace of mind during your trip, we clean and disinfect high-touched surfaces while the train is in operation

Yes. Before a new passenger can be seated, seats are sanitized with products approved by Health Canada.

VIA Rail cars are equipped with MERV filters with fresh air intakes. We have improved the filtration systems on most of our operating cars to reduce the transmission of potentially infectious droplets as much as possible.

In addition, to reduce the risk of transmission on board, masks must be worn at all times, physical distancing is encouraged, and cleaning protocols have been reinforced.

Our cleaning and maintenance protocols comply with Health Canada standards. Our stations are cleaned and disinfected up to twice daily. We also pay special attention to high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevators, washrooms, and light switches.

The Great Western Way

Washrooms will be sanitized every two to four hours as per health and safety recommendations, with cleaning products that have been approved by Health Canada to effectively eliminate the COVID-19 virus.

A very thorough evaluation of our air ventilation systems was completed. VIA Rail cars have MERV filters with fresh air intakes, which allow us to capture as many droplets as possible that can transmit the virus.

Passengers will be required to wear their mask at all times in stations and on board the trains, except when in an enclosed space such as a cabin or shower facility, or temporarily when eating or drinking (passengers are required to put their mask back on immediately afterwards).

Young children under the age of two and people with a medical condition or disability that makes it difficult to wear a mask are exempt from this requirement. In such cases, an official medical certificate and a government-issued photo identification will be required to attest that the passenger is unable to wear a mask. More information about the medical certificate.

While passengers will be required to remain in their cabins to respect physical distancing, they can use a reservation system to access the Dining car.

Other

Yes. To meet public health guidelines regarding physical distancing, we’ve made certain changes to our services in order to keep passenger-employee interactions to a minimum.

On board:

  • Business class meal service is back, with some slight changes. Full food cart service is once again available for passengers in Economy class.
  • Carry-on baggage assistance is available only to passengers with disabilities and/or limited mobility. We ask that you store any carry-ons in the overhead bin above your seat.

In our stations:

  • Most restaurants and business lounges are closed. Business lounges in Ottawa, Toronto, and Montréal remain open, but with limited access to ensure compliance with preventive measures.
  • Checked baggage service is temporarily suspended within the Québec City–Windsor Corridor, but it continues to be offered on all other VIA routes, as specified in our temporary schedules.

If you’re not feeling well on board, please let one of our employees know immediately. Our staff have been trained on preventive measures and will take the necessary steps to help you while mitigating the possible risks to the other passengers.

Carry-on baggage assistance is available only to passengers with disabilities and/or limited mobility. We ask that you store any carry-ons in the overhead bin above your seat.

Checked baggage service is temporarily suspended within the Québec City–Windsor Corridor, but it continues to be offered on all other VIA routes, as specified in our temporary schedules.

If you’ve just arrived from an international flight and need to take the train to get home, you will be allowed to board only if you meet the following criteria:

  • You confirm that you are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You confirm that you have not been denied boarding by a carrier in the last 14 days.
  • You confirm that you are travelling to your quarantine destination.
  • You are wearing a mask that complies with our onboard regulations. More information