Face-coverings exemption: Who doesn't have to wear a mask in shops?

24 July 2020, 08:02

From Friday face-coverings are mandatory in shops and supermarkets
From Friday face-coverings are mandatory in shops and supermarkets. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

From Friday face coverings have become mandatory in shops and businesses in England with the risk of a £100 fine, but who is exempt from the rules on masks?

People will need to wear a face-covering in shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, sandwich shops and supermarkets under new regulations which start today.

Under the new rules, people will need to have their nose and mouth covered or face a fine of up to £100.

However, like the rules around face-coverings on public transport, not everyone needs to wear one and there are some exemptions.

Read more: Supermarkets and shops refuse to enforce new face-coverings rule

Here's everything you need to know about coronavirus face mask exemptions.

Who does is exempt from the requirement to wear a face-covering in shops?

Section three of the Government guidance, published on Thursday, sets out a list of "legitimate reasons" not to wear a covering.

Read more: Ministers accused of 'making it up as they go along' amid facemask confusion

Groups and settings include:

- young children under the age of 11

- those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

- those who will be caused severe distress by putting on, wearing or removing a face covering

- people travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm

- to eat or drink if reasonably necessary

- to take medication

- if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official

- if you are asked to remove a face covering in a bank, building society, or post office for identification

- if you are asked by shop staff or relevant employees to take a face covering off for identification, or by for example a pharmacist for the purpose of assessing health recommendations, or for age identification purposes including when buying age-restricted products such as alcohol

- if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound to help with communication

Read more: Face-coverings: What are the new rules about masks in shops? Everything you need to know

It is not mandatory for shop or supermarket staff or transport workers to wear face coverings but employers can ask them to do so where appropriate and where other mitigation is not in place, the guidance states.

People exempt from wearing a face covering can choose to carry and show an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign, the Government says.