As someone with disabilities that include not being able to wear a face-mask, I have been particularly interested in reading the messages shop-keepers have put on their outlets to enforce the requirement for people to wear them, brought in as legislation in July 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some, particularly the larger chains, have gone to the trouble of adding a prominent sentence or two about consideration to those who are exempt from wearing face-masks. Others, mainly local shops, have tended to adopt a ‘no mask, no entry’ attitude on their signage or an exemption note that is very hard to find or read. Some shop notices even threaten to question people on the nature of their disability. I am no expert on disability legislation but I would have thought that wanting to ask a disabled person what the nature of their disability is goes against any measures brought in to prevent discrimination.

A few months after the introduction of the face-mask I wrote to a national newspaper (see below, published online at the Daily Telegraph website) expressing my concerns, particularly after meeting a disabled man, who had visibly difficulty walking, telling me a story about being stopped in a well-known bakery chain and asked what his disability was (that prevented him from wearing a face-mask). When he refused to say, the shop called the police (who fortunately did not do anything).

A ‘No Mask, No Service’ notice on a branch of Amigo’s restaurant in London. What most disturbed about about this notice were the words at the bottom ‘unless you can prove you are exempt’. Do they want disabled people to undergo some kind of medical examination?

The images on this page are some recent examples of signage that, as a disabled person, I find are the opposite of welcoming and certainly will not be getting my custom in future. The main image, from a branch of Wenzels bakery in London, with a ‘No Mask, No Service’ message. A few days after taking this I noticed that a sticker has been added to the notice asking for people who are exempt to make themselves known to staff. I am not sure if this was helpful or not as I expect that many disabled people would rather live their lives without having to tell a shopkeeper that they have a disability.

A tea-shop in London’s Leicester Square warns that customers who are exempt from wearing a face-mask ‘may be asked to provide proof upon entering’.

Image information.


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