The public are asked to be mindful of people who are exempt from wearing a face covering when new regulations come into force tomorrow. The list of exemptions, which has been in place since face coverings became mandatory on public transport, includes hidden conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders, autism, breathing difficulties, dementia, reduced vision or if you are with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.
Under the regulations, members of the public will need to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs, to help curb the spread of the virus.
People are not required to prove they are exempt and it is for individuals to choose how they would want to communicate this to others. For those who would feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering, exemption cards are available to print or display on mobile phones from gov.uk.
The latest guidance can be found on gov.uk.
Those with the following circumstances are also exempt from wearing a mask:
- Children under the age of 11
- Those with disabilities or the following health conditions:
- Breathing difficulties and other respiratory conditions.
- Conditions affecting their dexterity, meaning they are not able to put on a face covering.
- Mental health conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders.
- Other non-visible disabilities such as autism.
- Cognitive impairments, including dementia, who may not understand or remember the need to wear a face covering.
- Visual impairments, with a restricted field of vision, particularly if any residual vision is at the lower edge of the normal field of view.
- Impairments which would make it difficult to put on or take off a face covering safely, accurately, consistently or without pain.
This list of exemptions is not exhaustive and extends to anyone with justifiable reason for not wearing one on the grounds of health or disability.
You also do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability (as above)
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid or escape harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury
- to eat or drink if necessary
- in order to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering