Public must be considerate of those unable to wear face coverings

Rachael Hamilton MSP has urged retailers, shopkeepers and the public to be mindful of people who cannot wear face coverings for medical or other reasons.


Face coverings became mandatory in shops and on public transport several weeks ago, however there are exemptions such as people with a health condition or living with a disability.


Scottish Government advice states that if people have a health condition or are disabled and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety then they are exempt from wearing one.


The British Lung Foundation have produced a downloadable graphic that people can show on their devices to explain why they aren’t wearing a face covering. The card aims to inform staff when entering shops and supermarkets, and on public transport.


Retailers and transport providers have been told to respect exemptions by the Scottish Government.


Rachael Hamilton is encouraging retailers, shopkeepers and the general public to be considerate and to adhere to the two metre social distancing rule when near people without a mask or face covering.


Rachael Hamilton MSP said:


“We need to all look out for each other at this difficult time.


“Wearing face coverings in shops reduces the risk of transmission but we must be mindful that not everyone can wear one.


“Some people with medical conditions or disabilities are unable to wear face coverings, and we must recognise that they will require more personal space when moving around shops.


“That is why, regardless of face coverings, to remain at a safe distance from people in shops and enclosed spaces.


“I welcome the initiative from the British Lung Foundation which seeks to provide clarity over exemptions and offers people a quick and easy way of explaining their exemption”.


Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said:

“It’s important to wear a face covering where advised not only to protect yourself but others around you, who could be more vulnerable to Covid-19.

"However, we need a greater awareness that there are exemptions from the rules on face coverings, and this includes people with severe respiratory conditions.

"Most people will be able to wear a face covering with no problem, but some people find that wearing a mask makes them feel like they can’t breathe”.