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Face coverings: when to wear one and exemptions

30/07/2020

Recent changes mean that in England, unless exempt, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

• public transport

• indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)

• shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)

• indoor shopping centres

• banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave. You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

• young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)

• not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

• if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress

• if you are 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, and you do not have a face covering with you

• to eat or drink if reasonably necessary

• in order to take medication

• if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law. To find out more about face covering guidance, click here.

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