Last week, a new rule was introduced making it mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Failure to follow the new rules could result in a fine of up to £100.
However, some people are exempt from wearing them due to health conditions or a disability.
Some with invisible conditions which affect breathing like asthma or those with autism and sensory difficulties may be worried about facing difficulties as people don’t understand why they aren’t wearing one.
To help, Transport for London has launched an exemption card for those who can’t wear a mask to show to other passengers or staff, similar to their ‘Please offer me a seat’ cards.
As masks will hopefully be a temporary measure and due to the current situation, TfL will not send the cards out to most people in the same way as they do for other schemes.
Who is exempt from wearing a mask on public transport?
The following are exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering on TfL’s public transport stations, platforms and services:
- Children under the age of 11
- Employees of, or persons providing agreed services to, TfL
- Police constables (including British Transport Police) officers acting in the course of their duty
- Members or employees of the emergency services responding to an emergency
A person will have a reasonable excuse and will not be required to wear a face covering in the following circumstances:
- Where a person cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010), or without severe distress
- Where a person is providing a lip-reading service to a person they are travelling with
- Where a person removes their face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others
- Where a person is travelling to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and does not have a face covering with them
- If it is reasonably necessary for a person to eat and drink, and the person removes their face covering to eat or drink
- Where a person is required to remove the face covering by a police constable (including a British Transport Police officer) or another authorised person
Instead, they have produced a template on their website for people who need it to print out.
The card says: ‘I am exempt from wearing a face covering,’ and features the logo of both TfL and the Mayor of London.
They suggest putting it in a lanyard that you can wear around your neck, or simply saving it on your phone to show if needed.
For those without a printer or smartphone, you can contact TfL and they will print one out for you.
Other transport providers are looking at similar schemes to help people outside London and TfL says that they will recognise cards from elsewhere too.
You can download and print the TfL card here.
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