Face Covering Exemption Card Scheme Closure

Following recent discussions with the Scottish Government, we can now confirm that the Face Covering Exemption project will close after almost three years of support, at 12 noon, on Friday 22 September 2023.

There are no COVID-19 rules or restrictions in Scotland. We are now living with COVID-19 as one of a number of respiratory infections. Guidance is still in place for those experiencing symptoms of a respiratory infection including Covid-19. Respect for those who are unable to wear a face covering and other people’s choices is acknowledged and encouraged as part of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland – gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

The original aim of this project was to ensure that individuals could obtain a card which could be used to exempt them from wearing a face covering when visiting public places – or on public transport – where a face covering was either required or strongly recommended in line with the then Covid regulations set by Scottish Ministers.

Disability Equality Scotland are tremendously proud to have delivered this project – on behalf of the Scottish Government – over the last three years and to have supported over 250,000 individuals to access a face covering exemption card.

Public Health Minister Jenni Minto said:

“The Face Covering Exemption Card scheme – delivered in partnership with Disability Equality Scotland – provided a valuable service throughout different stages of the pandemic. The scheme successfully issued a combined total of over 250k physical and digital cards through exempt.scot since October 2020.

While the scheme will close on Friday 22 September, cards can be requested until this time and cards already in circulation can continue to be used.

Covid has not gone away which is why we continue to ask everyone to take sensible precautions to stay well and protect others, including taking up the offer of vaccination when invited to protect themselves and others. A risk-based approach to face coverings is in place across all settings with respect for those who may be unable to or wish to wear a face covering.”

Users praised the face covering exemption project for its positive aspects, such as:

  • An increased confidence when going about their daily lives with an exemption card.
  • Accessing an exemption card made them less fearful of being judged by others because they weren’t wearing a face covering.
  • The exemption card contributed to ensuring that disabled people had their dignity and privacy respected.
  • The exemption card was also helpful in explaining exemptions and people felt less likely to be confronted.

Chief Executive Officer at Disability Equality Scotland, Lyn Pornaro,  reflected that:

“The face covering exemption project should be considered an undoubted success and has provided a lifeline to disabled people across Scotland throughout the Covid pandemic – if they were unable to use a face covering.

Use of the exemption card by disabled people provided them with increased confidence and independence.

We would like to thank the Scottish Government for entrusting the delivery of this project to Disability Equality Scotland.”

The Face Covering Exemption Card scheme will close on 22 September. Cards can be requested through www.exempt.scot until 12 noon on 22 September.  Cards already in circulation have no time limitation and can continue to be used.