Face Covering Exemptions: Disabled People Left Distressed as Supermarkets Refuse Entry

Face covering Exemption infographic featuring illustration of a face mask and Disability Equality Scotland logo Also features the following text People are exempt if: They have a disability or health condition that means they cannot put a mask on. They have a disability or health condition that means they cannot put a mask on. A mask will cause them severe distress They need to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading They need to eat, drink or take medicine

Disability Equality Scotland is deeply concerned by the influx in calls and messages that we have received from distressed members of the public who are being refused entry to supermarkets for not wearing a face covering, despite being exempt due to their disability or health condition.

A number of supermarkets recently announced they would ban people without face coverings from their stores, regardless of the Scottish Government guidance, which clearly states that there are situations where some people are unable to wear a face covering.

Access to food is a basic human right and as a consequence of these actions, disabled people are finding themselves in a position where they are unable to purchase essential supplies.

In one such instance, an elderly person was refused entry to their local supermarket for not wearing a face covering, despite staff having previously recognised that they were exempt due to their disability.

Disability Equality Scotland CEO Morven Brooks commented:

“I am utterly appalled by the shocking messages we have received from disabled people over the past week, as a direct response to the change in stance from supermarkets regarding face covering exemptions.

I would like to remind retailers and the public to be respectful of circumstances when people cannot wear a face covering. Staff can simply approach people to ask if they can wear a face covering and if they are exempt, this should be accepted.”

Disability Equality Scotland administers the distribution of the Scottish Government face covering exemption card. You do not need to provide written proof that you are exempt, but if it would make you feel safer and more confident in public and when accessing and using public spaces and services, you can request a card.

People who meet the exemption criteria can request a card by completing the online form on the face covering exemption card  website: www.exempt.scot or by calling the free helpline on 0800 121 6240 (Open 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday)

Retailers must also recognise that other face covering exemption cards have been produced such as those found below. These cards can still be used. This list is not exhaustive.