A face covering exemption card has been produced for people who are unable to wear one.

The face covering exemption card is branded with the Healthier Scotland and NHS Scotland logos under the FACTS for a Safer Scotland campaign.

A physical card can be requested from Disability Equality Scotland to wear on a lanyard or hold in a wallet, while a digital card is also available to be displayed on a phone, tablet or other device.

Here's what you need to know:

What is the card?

An exemption card can be used by people, where reasons with their health make it difficult for them to wear a mask.

The card can be used to identify them as being exempt, therefore taking any potential anxiety over run-ins with unfriendly members of public.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley Anne Somerville said:

“Everyone who can do so is legally obliged to wear a face covering where it is mandated by law. But there are some people who cannot, due to health conditions, disabilities or other special circumstances where a face covering may cause difficulty or distress.

“Discrimination against people in this situation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We have developed this card in conjunction with a range of equality stakeholders as something which can clearly communicate to others if you are exempt from the regulations.”

The Gazette:

Morven Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Equality Scotland, said:

“Since face coverings became mandatory, we have been inundated with calls from our members, many of whom cannot wear face coverings for a variety of health reasons.

“The launch of the Scottish Government exemption card will help disabled people to feel more comfortable and confident to go about their daily lives free from fear of harassment and abuse.”

Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?

According to the Scottish Government website, there are a number of reasons to be exempt from wearing a face covering.

These include:

  • Babies, toddlers and children under 5 years of age.
  • People who have a health condition or who are disabled, including hidden disabilities, for example, autism, dementia or a learning disability, or are providing care for someone with a health condition or disability, and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety to the wearer or the person in the care of the wearer. This includes children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering.
  • You cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently
  • Anyone who needs to take medication and cannot do so whilst wearing a face covering.
  • A person who is communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate. Such people should remove the face covering only temporarily whilst communicating and replace it immediately afterwards.
  • Anyone who is seeking medical assistance, or acting to avoid injury, illness or harm, and where wearing a face covering would make this more difficult. This also applies if someone needs emergency assistance and they don’t have a face covering with them or there is not time to put one on.
  • A person who is providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person and where wearing a face covering would make this more difficult. This also applies if someone needs emergency assistance and they don’t have a face covering with them or there is not time to put one on.

How can I apply?

Physical and digital cards are available to request online from 29 October at www.exempt.scot or via a free helpline on 0800 121 6240.

The Gazette:

Where are face coverings mandatory?

A face covering is mandatory in a number of indoor settings, as well as on public transport. 

These include:

  • Shops, takeaway restaurants, pharmacies, estate agents, beauty parlours. 
  • Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants except when an exemption applies.
  • Aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site.
  • Banks, building societies and credit unions.
  • Cinemas.
  • Community centres.
  • Crematoriums and funeral directors' premises.
  • Libraries, public reading rooms, museums and galleries.
  • Places of worship.
  • Post offices.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points.
  • Bingo halls.
  • Casinos.
  • Bowling alleys.
  • Amusement arcades and other leisure facilities (such as snooker and pool halls).
  • Indoor funfairs.
  • Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres.
  • Train services including the Glasgow subway and Edinburgh Tram
  • Bus services.
  • Taxi and private hire vehicles.
  • Bus stations, railway stations (including open air stations) and airports.
  • Ferry services (unless the ferry is open to the elements and physical distancing can be achieved, or the vessel is large enough that physical distancing can be achieved).
  • Airline services.