By Steve Scherer and Kelsey Johnson
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will require most airport workers and flight crews to wear non-medical masks from June 4, but pilots will be exempt while they are on the flight deck, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Wednesday.
Airline passengers have been required to wear face coverings since April.
Garneau, asked why masks for transport staff were imposed more than a month after passengers, acknowledged the new measures could have been done "a little sooner", but said organizing the new rules and consulting with all affected industry took time.
"The measures we are putting in place today will further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for transportation workers and passengers," he said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Maritime and rail workers will be provided masks, while rail passengers will be asked to have one at hand in case they are not able to physically distance, Garneau said.
In Canada, there have been no broad requirements to wear a mask in public, but on May 20 it was recommended for people who could not maintain physical distancing.
Canada's coronavirus deaths rose less than 1% to 7,414 on Wednesday from a day earlier, official data showed.
The plan laid out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International last month to reassure governments it is safe for the public to fly included contact tracing, temperature screening, social distancing, extra cleaning and the wearing of masks.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Kelsey Johnson; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bernadette Baum)