Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, have issued the following statement regarding a new WestJet policy to share passenger contact information:
“One of the most effective ways public health officials can help slow COVID-19 transmission in our communities is contact tracing. That means contacting people who may have been exposed to a confirmed case, to provide them the supports they need to self-monitor and, if necessary, get tested and self-isolate.
“Throughout this pandemic, our contact tracers have had challenges reaching people who were exposed to the virus while flying – because of the limited information available on traditional flight manifests.
“While the federal government regulates the airline industry, WestJet representatives met with us earlier this month to hear from us directly on how they could help.
“The decision they announced today – to collect names and contact information for each of their passengers at check-in and share it with public health if a COVID-19 case is identified on a flight – is something we discussed at that meeting and will help us immensely.
“It’s a policy that will keep our communities, and all passengers travelling on WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop, safer during this pandemic.
“As we continue our restart in B.C., it becomes more important to be able to connect with people and ensure those who may have been exposed to a person identified as having COVID-19 are aware of their risk. In air travel, it is still a relatively low risk, but it is a risk that we would prefer to be able to notify people of in an efficient way.
“We all look forward to travelling more and must always be committed to doing it safely. WestJet is joining the many local bars and restaurants, and other businesses in British Columbia, that keep their guests’ contact information, partnering with public health, so we can connect with anyone exposed to the virus and stop it from spreading further in our communities.”