Who is exempt from wearing a face mask in the UK?

ANYONE with breathing difficulties, disabled people and babies are among those who don't have to wear a face mask in shops or on public transport.

From July 24, people will have to wear face masks in shops and anyone refusing will be fined up to £100.

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Who is exempt from wearing a mask?

It has been compulsory for travellers to wear a mask on public transport since June 15, 2020.

But the Transport Secretary said: "There will be exceptions to these rules for very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties."

The government announced that from July 24 people entering shops will have to wear a face-covering.

Customers will face a £100 fine but cut to £50 if they pay within a fortnight.

According to the official Government guidance, the following groups are not required to wear a face-covering while using public transport or in a shop:

  • A child under the age of 11
  • An employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
  • Any other person providing services to the transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator, who is providing those services
  • A constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
  • An emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
  • An official, for example, a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
  • If you are allocated a cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, at any time when you are in that accommodation, either alone, or only with members of your own household or a linked household
  • If you are on board public transport but remain in your private vehicle, for example on a car ferry

There are also a series of factors which the Government describes as a “reasonable excuse”, which also means you don’t have to wear a mask:

  • If you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
  • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
  • If you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • If you are travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • If you need to remove it during your journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • If you need to eat, drink, or take medication you can remove your face covering
  • If you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official, for example to check your railcard
  • According to the website Autism Eye, these rules around “reasonable excuses” also cover passengers with autism.

Will travellers be allowed to board without a mask?

If you don't come under the exempt categories then travellers will be refused boarding if they are not wearing a mask, or told to get off.

Mr Shapps said: "I can announce that as of Monday 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.

"The evidence suggests that wearing a face masks offers some, limited protection.

"You can be refused travel if you don't comply and you could be fined.

"It’s a condition of travel. You cannot travel if you are not wearing a face covering."

What is a face covering exemption card?

Those who are exempted from wearing a face mask will be asked to get a "face-covering exemption card".

The card is available to download for free on the TfL website.

Those exempt will be required to carry the card on their person while using public transport.

TfL will also recognise similar cards that may have been issued by other transport operators.

The card can also be displayed a smartphone.

If you do not have a printer or a smartphone, you can contact TfL and they will print and post a card to you.

Some TfL staff may also use this card.

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