We are aware that some patients might be understandably anxious about the Government’s recent announcements around the use of face masks in various public settings.
GPs are unfortunately not in a position to provide individual risk assessments or letters for patients who feel that they should be exempt from wearing a face mask, whether in regard to their use on public transport or in any other setting as required by legislation.
Devon Local Medical Committee has therefore prepared this guidance note as the statutory body that advises and supports all GPs and practice teams across Devon.
The Government guidance on exemptions suggests there is no requirement for evidence for exemption therefore it is sufficient for an individual to self-declare this.
In the case of face mask use on public transport, the responsibility for issuing exemptions lies with the transport provider not your GP. Similarly, practices are under no obligation to provide letters of support for anyone who does not fall under the list of exemptions but considers them to have another reason to be exempted.
Government advice on the use of face coverings on public transport can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#face-coverings
Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons. Some staff may not wear a face covering if it is not required for their job.
We hope that this guidance provides some reassurance for you on this issue.
Full list of exempt criteria from Gov.uk can be viewed here:
Exemptions – people who do not have to wear a face covering on public transport
The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to:
- a child under the age of 11
- passengers in an allocated cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, when they are alone or with members of their household or support bubble
- passengers who remain in their private vehicle while on board public transport, for example on a car ferry
- an employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
- any other person providing services to the transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator, who is providing those services
- a constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
- an emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
- an official, for example a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
You also do not need to wear a face covering if you have a good reason not to.
- if you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- if you are travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- if you need to remove it during your journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
- if you need to eat, drink, or take medication you can remove your face covering
- if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official, for example to check your railcard