Exemption for the wearing of face coverings

24 July 2020

From 24 July, wearing a face became mandatory for members of the public who enter shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs in a bid to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Different rules apply across the four nations  of the UK. Full details are available on gov.uk.

However, under the regulation, an exemption to this rule applies to those who are under the age of 11 and those with disabilities or have any of 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.

The list of exemptions is not exhaustive and also extends to anyone with a justifiable reason for not wearing one on the grounds of either health or disability.

The public are advised that they also do not need to wear a face covering if they have a legitimate reason not to and this includes (but again, 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 the wearer severe distress
  • If they are travelling with or aiding 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
  • To take medication
  • If a police officer or other official requests, for a removal of a face covering

Further details on those who the exemption applies to can be found at gov.uk.

The public are asked to be mindful of people who are exempt from wearing a face covering. Exemption cards and badges are available to download which can be printed or displayed on mobile phones, however, individuals are not required to prove they are exempt, and it is for them to choose how they would want to communicate this to others.

For wearers of glasses, face coverings can cause a challenge by steaming up lenses, the BBC have published a short video which demonstrates three methods to avoid this problem.

Information provided in this news article may be subject to change. Please make note of the date of publication to ensure that you are viewing up to date information.