People who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a face mask can access a new personalised exemption card from the end of May.
About the new face mask exemption cards
For some people, an impairment, health condition, physical disability or mental health can mean wearing a mask isn’t possible. These reasons aren’t always obvious or easy to explain. The new process is being introduced to make sure people who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a mask have more certainty in being able to demonstrate that they are exempt.
For the business community, the new cards will also provide more certainty that a person with the new card is exempt from the requirement to wear a mask. If a mask exemption is questioned, the business will be at risk of triggering the duties and obligations under the Human Rights Act that protect disabled people.
The new process will be administered by the Ministry of Health and allows people who can’t wear a mask to get a personalised card to help them access businesses and services where wearing a mask is required.
The new cards will be optional, but they will be legally recognised as conclusive proof of a person’s exempt status. This is not the case for the old cards, which can continue to be used; however, they will not have the legitimacy of the new cards.
People who fraudulently misuse the process will be in breach of a COVID-19 Order under the COVID-19 (Public Health Response) Act 2020.
Getting a new face mask exemption card
People will be able to apply for a card through the Ministry of Health website from the end of May, and it will be issued to them digitally or by post.
An 0800 free call number will be available, and those who require an interpreter or translator to request a card will be able to access one.
More information about applying for a card will be made available in the coming weeks.