The Government has set out a list of face covering exemptions, which includes disabled people in some circumstances, as they become mandatory in additional enclosed spaces in England from today (Friday 24 July).
If your disability means that you cannot wear one, you are exempt from the requirement. The Government guidance specifies, in particular, an exemption for someone with a visual impairment whose residual vision would be obscured by a face covering.
Sarah Lambert, Head of Social Change at RNIB, explains: "Whilst we encourage everyone who can to wear a mask, some blind and partially sighted people may experience problems with their remaining vision as a result. We would advise people to experiment safely at home in order to see if they can find a mask or covering that doesn’t cause problems. However, if your ability to navigate outside your home is impacted, you can go out without one.”
Exemption cards and badges are available to download on gov.uk, which you can print off or put on your phone to show other people that you are exempt.
Other exemptions include people under the age of 11, or those with disabilities, or hidden health conditions such as breathing difficulties, mental health conditions or autism.
Separately, we know that lots of people are also struggling with social distancing and so we are also working with Government to get them to produce cards and badges similar to the exemption cards to encourage the public to make space for you. We hope to have an update on this soon.