‘Don’t judge people not wearing a face mask’ councillors urge

Councillors are reminding people to be mindful of those with hidden disabilities who are unable to wear a face mask.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 8:35 am
Councillors urge people ‘not to judge’ those without face coverings because of hidden disabilities

While coverings became mandatory in shops from August 10 in Northern Ireland there were also exemptions set out by the NI Executive.

These included those who have a physical or mental impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering.

The exemptions also included individuals who would be caused severe distress by wearing them and those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema.

Councillor Marc Collins said: “Many people, for whatever medical reason, are unable to wear face masks and we all need to be aware of that.

“We can’t presume that every person who isn’t wearing a mask is flouting the rules.

“Mid and East Antrim is a friendly borough for everybody and if somebody is struggling they may have a hidden disability.”

Councillor Matthew Armstrong said: “I would urge everyone to be careful not to judge anyone in shops who are not wearing a face covering.

“There could potentially be many hidden reasons for this and the public should be understanding that others may not have a mask on for that reason.

“Please do not jump to conclusions if you see someone shopping without a face covering as there could be a very important reason as to why.”

Councillor Cheryl Johnston, added: “One of the things we have to be cognisant of as a society is that for some people, a face covering just isn’t a possibility, because of various health conditions.

“So if you see someone who’s on the bus or who is in the shop, who doesn’t have one, perhaps they’ve got an underlying barrier that prevent them from wearing that.

“We have to be kind at all times, and specifically now that if we see someone (not wearing a mask), don’t say, ‘Where’s your face mask?’ – have a little bit of understanding that there may be a specific reason that they’re not wearing it.”

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