The U.K. government has made wearing facemasks or face coverings compulsory almost everywhere; it is a common sight to see people on the road with facemasks or coverings as I Samuel Exall have. There is no arguing the fact that facemasks are important in curbing the spread of the corona virus.
There are some categories of people however, exempt from wearing facemasks or face coverings especially for carers of people with disabilities, autism spectrum, lung and breathing conditions, physical illness and so on.
There’s a lack of information with regards to this exemptions, many people have been harassed, fined or molested in public due to lack of adequate information on the face covering exemptions by the public. Here is a full list of those that do not require a face covering issued by the government.
- People that cannot wear or remove face coverings due to mental or physical disability, impairment or illness.
- Children under the age of 11 (Public Health England categorically states that children under the age of three should not use face covering for safety and health reasons.)
- In places where putting them on will cause distress
- If you are providing help to a person that needs or requires lip readings or clear facial expressions or sounds.
- Police officers or emergency workers are also exempt if it will disrupt them in carrying out their normal duties to the public.
- If using face coverings will cause harm, injury, the risk of harm or injury to you or to others. Also, if it will affect you from perform strenuous activities or exercises.
Shop and business owners and their members of staff can refuse entry to people without face covering or call the police to enforce the face-covering rule. Train and bus companies can also reject people with face covering that do not have exemption cards.
England and Scotland have a fine of 100 pounds, 50 pounds if you pay it within 2 weeks for anyone that flouts the rule.
You can also take off your facemasks or face coverings in the following situations.
- If you want to take medications
- If you are in a bank, building society or post office and you are asked to take it off for proper identification
- If your undergoing a medical or cosmetic procedure like a dental procedure or a facial.
- If you are delivering prayer or a sermon in a place of worship
- If you are eating or drinking in a restaurant or pub, you need to put your facemask or face covering back on immediately after eating or drinking.
- An elite sportsperson, a referee or a professional dancer is exempt for wearing face coverings in the act of carrying out their job.
- A couple getting married in a relevant or famous place can also take off the face coverings.
If you fall within this category, it is important to get exemption cards that you can show when you are in public or in a bus or the tube, this is to prevent constant questions about your lack of a mask or face covering.
Though you are not required to carry an exemption card by law as I Sam Exall would, it saves you a lot of time and stress
This is a sample of a facemask or face covering exemption, you have the various options of showing the face covering exemptions; as a mobile phone badge, as a badge or you can just print it out.
In London, the transport system also has “face covering exemption cards” that you can download for free to carry as cards or just keep on your smartphone.
There is a failure on the part of the government in providing clarity for exemptions for people with disabilities; this leaves a loophole for people with disabilities to suffer intimidation or harassment anytime they step into the streets or a bus.
It is almost a human rights issue even as others question them severally for not wearing masks when they do not have to wear them because government has not given clear-cut information on the people who are exempt.
There are no ad campaigns y the government on TV, newspapers or even social media platforms telling people to treat persons with disability with courtesy when they see them without their face coverings and an exemption card.
Physical disabilities are not the only ones who are exempt, people with mental disabilities like autism spectrum have difficulties with a face covering and the public who do not have information on the condition of these special needs people accuse them of trying to spread the virus.
There have been many incidents where people have been with disabilities have been harassed or even assaulted by the public because they believe they are a danger to themselves and others. Usually, the government only responds to these incidents instead of commencing on a national information drive to sensitize citizens.
The excuse that the government produced exemption cards for those that do not require face coverings doesn’t hold water because it means people with disability have to responsible for how they are treated by the public.
They have to ensure that they are victimized or harassed by the public denying them of their fundamental rights.
Articles 16 of the Human Rights Convention highlight that everyone irrespective of class, race, or disability have the right to live free from abuse, exploitation and violence meaning the government has to more to make sure they are safe.
Article 22 of the same convention also protects the right of people with disability to their privacy meaning having to carry an exemption card to prove their disability is actually infringing on their rights. If this goes on, people with disability will end up being denied access to public transportation.
It is understood that the government has to all in its power to halt the progress of the this pandemic that has changed everything about our life, but in the quest of making the public safe we must trample on the rights of people with disabilities.