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Masks and you – Who are the exempt few?

By Ben Crane

Masks are now mandatory in shops, but some people are exempt from wearing mask in public. Who are these people and what are the reasons?

Young children, specifically those of 11 or younger (Public Health England do not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)

People with disabilities, impairments or people who are mentally ill.

If putting on a mask causes genuine severe distress or emotional harm to a person (“I just don’t like masks” does not come under this category. You might not like eating vegetables either but throwing a tantrum about something so small isn’t exactly an attractive quality in a person).

You are a person who aids, assists or helps out someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.

To avoid injury or harm to yourselves or to others. Or to avoid injury when escaping from harm and you do not have a mask to hand. (The world is unpredictable and sometimes it catches you off guard it happens to the best of us. But unless you are escaping harm by making a daring and dramatic escape from a nefarious villain, please keep a backup mask on hand just in case for unexpected events)

To eat and drink where reasonably necessary (Unless you want to eat soup via a straw for lunch, you’ll have to take your mask off for when you need to eat. Just make sure to enjoy your food and keep a social distance and all is good)

To take medication (Not sure about you lot but COVID has given me a couple of headaches truth be told, make sure your hands are clean if you’re out and about and stay safe out there)

You may be asked to remove your mask at certain points too, such as being ID’ed at the shop or at the bank, the police need to speak to you, or a person who lip reads needs to ask you a question. (I always get frazzled when I get asked for directions, bonus of wearing a mask is it is harder for someone to see you panic for a second while you figure out where on Earth they are trying to get to)

Other than that, masks will be mandatory for the rest of us, I personally plan of living out my childhood dream being a pirate and being able to wear a mask gives me the perfect excuse.

selfie of a man wearing a red mask doing a thumbs up
Ben, pretending to be pirate in his mask

You can find out more about mask-wearing and exemptions in the UK on the government website here.

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