Mask Exemption Pass
People who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a face mask can now access a personalised Mask Exemption Pass. You can show the card to transport operators, retailers and service providers. It can help make it easier to explain that a face mask is unsuitable for you.
To start the application process:
More info is available via the Ministry of Health (MoH).
If you have an existing communication card, it remains valid. Both these new personalised exemption cards and current non-personalised cards issued by the MoH are optional as an aid to avoiding discrimination. For those affected, you will not have to go through the process of getting a new card if you do not want to, however the old cards will not have the legitimacy of the new cards.
Key feature of the new card
It will be issued to an individual named on the face of the card and, when presented, will provide conclusive legal evidence of that person’s legitimate exempt status. This means that:
Businesses who deny entry to people with an exemption card issued under the new system on the grounds that they are not wearing a face mask are at risk of breaching the Human Rights Act 1993;
People who intentionally use an exemption card that was not issued to them will be breaching the Covid-19 Public Health (Protection Framework) Order 2021
- Businesses have an obligation under the Human Rights Act not to discriminate against people with disabilities who are exempt from wearing a face mask.
- Equally, businesses and their staff have a right to be safe from abusive and threatening behaviour and businesses will continue to have a right to exclude customers from their premises on the grounds of threatening, rude or disruptive behaviour.
- The new face mask exemption is designed to support affected communities and businesses by removing any ambiguity as to whether a person can or cannot wear a face mask on a business’s premises.
- It is not always obvious why wearing a face covering is unsuitable for someone. For example, people who are exempt may have been victims of crime or might suffer from a mental illness or condition that is not apparent to the outside observer. They should have the same right as others to access goods and services.
- Changes to the COVID-19 legislation will be enacted to recognise this exemption card as proof of a genuine exemption and provide business owners certainty of someone with an exemption by giving access to official and recognised proof of this fact.
In addition, a Unite Against COVID-19 social awareness campaign, Do It For Each Other, is currently underway which highlights some of the misconceptions about why some people have and need to be exempt from wearing a mask. The campaign encourages people to protect vulnerable/at-risk members of the community. Public health advice is that when most people wear masks if they are able, the risk posed by a small percentage of people not wearing masks is low.