Face coverings have become commonplace in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and now they’re even more so as wearing them is now mandatory shops in England.
The new ruling states that face coverings will be compulsory – bringing England into line with Scotland where it is already mandatory to wear a mask or covering in shops – with those who don’t comply could face a £100 fine.
There are, however, some exceptions to from the face covering rule, with the Government outlining 12 reasons which would excuse you and/or your children from wearing one should they apply…
Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?
The Government’s website states that the following will be exempt from wearing a face mask:
Children under 11 years old
Anyone not able to put on, wear or take off a face covering owing to a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
Anyone who would be caused extreme distress by donning, wearing or taking off a face covering
Anyone travelling with or providing assistance to a person who relies on lip-reading for communicating
Anyone who needs to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others
Anyone who does not have a face covering with them and needs to avoid injury, or to escape the risk of harm
People who need to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
A person who needs to take off their mask in order to take medication
Situations which would jutify the removal of masks include:
If a police officer or other official asks someone to take their face covering off
If someone is asked to take their mask off in a post office, bank or building so that they can be identified
If someone is asked to take their mask off by shop employees for identification, so they can check your age – for example when buying age-restricted products like alcohol – and for the purpose of assessing health recommendations – for example, when speaking to a pharmacist
If a person is speaking with someone who relies on lip reading, facial expressions and/or clear sound
If any of these reasons apply to you, or you find yourself in any of the scenarios listed above, then you will be exempt from wearing face masks.
Which medical conditions are exempt from wearing a face covering?
Although specific medical conditions have not been named, it’s been suggested that those with asthma and respiratory conditions could be exempt if wearing a mask makes it difficult for them to breathe.
Jessica Kirby, Asthma UK’s Head Of Advice has said in a statement: ‘For some people with asthma, wearing a face covering might not be easy. It could make it feel harder to breathe.
‘The UK government has advised that people with respiratory conditions don’t need to wear face coverings, so if you are finding it hard, then don’t wear one.
‘If you’re comfortable to wear a face covering, please use a cloth or home-made one, not a medical type face mask.’
How to get a face mask exemption card
Asthma UK have also made face covering exemption cards available at their website, as have Transport For London, for anyone using public transport who is unable to wear a face covering.
If you have a medical condition and you are unsure whether you should be exempt from wearing a face covering, your best bet is to contact your GP for advice.
Other charities such as Hidden Disabilities offer cards you can download, but none of these cards are official Government documents.