Face Coverings

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 1st September 2020.

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Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Home Office)

What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of Government guidance for people unable to wear face coverings due to medical or other reasons.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Guidance to explain the Government’s policy on face coverings continues to be updated and fully takes into account groups with protected characteristics. This guidance makes it clear that there are exemptions for people who are unable, for a variety of reasons, to wear face coverings. We have also run a proactive communications campaign to ensure that people are aware that some people are unable to wear a face covering in certain circumstances.

Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Home Office)

Georgina Fallows is a rape survivor who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder when her mouth is covered. Georgina and others like her have been challenged for not wearing a mask in shops and on public transport, and this causes further stress and anxiety. Does the Minister support Georgina’s campaign for a badge to identify people who legitimately cannot wear a mask, and will she consider raising awareness of this issue via a public information campaign?

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I was incredibly sorry to hear what Georgina has been through, and fully understand that she and others who have undergone traumatic experiences cannot wear a face covering without distress. That is why our guidance and public messaging have been very clear that there may be people who should be exempt from wearing a covering for a variety of reasons. It is also clear that people do not need to prove it when challenged. We are actively engaging with stakeholders and charities to ensure that these messages sensitively get across, and we will continue to do so, but I would welcome a fuller discussion with the hon. Member about anything we can do further to help individuals such as Georgina.