From July 24 face coverings and masks must be worn by customers in shops and supermarkets – however, there are some exemptions.
Some disabled people and children under the age of 11, will not have to wear a face covering – shop staff will also be exempt when working.
New regulations also came into place on June 15 meaning that passengers must wear a face covering when travelling on public transport, but again, exemptions apply.
Who is exempt?
The Government says you do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to.
Reasons that mean you don’t have to wear a face covering
- young children under the age of 11
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- 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 harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink, but only if you need to
- to take medication
How can I prove I’m exempt?
There is currently no official face covering exemption card, but cards to help give the message of being exempt can be found online.
The cards range from free downloadable cards, to lanyards with cards being sold for £15.00 each.
Disability charity Living Options Devon, has cards available to download for free on their website, here.
Cards can also be bought online for 55p from Hidden Disabilities, here.
What are the potential benefits of having a card?
Aside from avoiding potential discomfort, carrying a card may help people to avoid conflict or distress, and possibly help mitigate the risk of being fined.
For people without face coverings, police can enforce fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days), transport operators can deny services or direct them to wear a face covering, and shops and supermarkets can refuse entry to anybody not following the law.
The Government have said they strongly encourage people to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
However, if you are wearing a mask, there are scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked.
This includes being asked by a police officer or other official to remove your face covering, if asked to do so by shop staff or the purpose of age identification, or if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication.