Face covering exemptions
The vast majority of people can wear a face covering, including most people with a lung condition such as asthma, and everyone who can wear a face covering in the mandated spaces is legally required to do so.
However, we recognise that there are situations where a person is unable to, or it would be inappropriate, for them to wear a face covering.
These exemptions include:
- when a person has a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010) (which might include hidden disabilities, for example, autism, dementia or a learning disability) which prevents them wearing a face covering. This may include children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering
- when a person is unable to wear a face covering without suffering severe distress as a result
- when taking medication which requires removing a face covering
- when a worker or volunteer is in an indoor part of their workplace and they are separated from others, either by a partition or maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres.
- when seated in a hospitality setting
- to eat or drink
- when communicating with someone who relies on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate. Such people should ensure 2 metres distance is maintained and remove the face covering only temporarily whilst communicating and replace it immediately afterwards
- babies, toddlers and all other children under 5
- additional exemptions are set out in the Regulations.
Where an exemption applies, an individual should not be made to wear a face covering or denied access to places where face coverings are required. However, there may be other occasions when they can wear a face covering, so they should consider whether they are able to wear a face covering on each given day, and in the particular circumstances. Alternatively, they may be able to wear a face shield, rather than not wearing any covering at all.
It is not mandatory for those who are exempt to have to prove their exemption.
However, the person can request a free face covering exemption card on 0800 121 6240 or through the exemption card website.
Those exempt under the Regulations should not be forced to wear a face covering and no one should be abused or treated in an unacceptable way.
We ask for people to be aware of the exemptions and to treat each other with kindness, especially when asking why someone is not wearing a mask.