Coronavirus: Face Mask Exemptions

 

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As of 24 July, everyone must wear a face covering on Public Transport and in Shops. 
These rules don’t apply to children under the age of 11 and disabled people or those with health conditions when there is a ‘reasonable excuse‘ not to.  This includes:

  • where you cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering:
  • without severe distress
  • because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010
  • where you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, another person who relies on lip-reading to communicate
  • to eat or drink where it is reasonably necessary to do so
  • where you have to remove your face covering to take medication

 This means that exemptions only apply if you have a disability or condition that would make it very difficult to wear a face covering.  For example;

  • if you have respiratory condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you may find it too difficult to breathe through a face covering.
  • If you have a learning difficulty, sensory processing disorder or neurodivergent condition, wearing a mask could be too overwhelming.
  • If you have communication difficulties, speech impairment or find it hard to express yourself with a mask on, especially if you are non-verbal, a mask would be difficult.
  • Mask exemptions also apply if you need to communicate with a deaf person who lip-reads.

This is list is not exhaustive and there will be many other disabilities, including invisible ones, that would make wearing a mask very difficult.

As a GP Practice we are getting an increase in requests from patients for letters of exemption to wearing face masks in various public settings.  The Government guidance suggests there is no requirement for evidence for exemption so it should be enough for someone to declare that they are eligible for an exemption direct with the person questioning them (e.g. a bus driver).

Practices are therefore not required to provide letters of support for those who fall under the list of exemptions, or to those who do not fall under the list of exemptions.  Please see this letter explaining this further.

Some transport providers are providing evidence of exemptions themselves, see for example this information from First Bus and Arriva.

 

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