Mask exemption anger sparks local demonstration

Mask exemption anger sparks local demonstration

Mask exemption anger sparks local demonstration

Locals took to the streets today outside Grimsby Town Hall in order to demonstrate for a greater awareness of the reasons behind face mask exceptions.

Current government guidance stipulates that “people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability” are exempt from having to wear one.

It also states that “those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this.”

But organiser Glenn Sharp says many people with hidden disabilities, including himself, are being discriminated against for not wearing masks.

Speaking to Gi Media last week, Mr Sharp said:

“I am exempt from wearing a mask due to having asthma and mental health issues.

“Recently, I’ve had negative responses from 5 shops, and even been refused entry or shouted at by members of staff in others.

“In one shop, I had to argue for about five minutes in a shop about being exempt just so I could get served.

“I’ve also been forced to discuss personal aspects of my disabilities to prove it.

“In the space of four days, my support group has accumulated 240 members who have had similar experiences.

“I think there is a real lack of knowledge and fear regarding hidden disabilities.”

He added that he has been banned from several places including shops and GP practices for standing up for himself in accordance with current regulations.

Mask exemption anger sparks local demonstration Mask exemption anger sparks local demonstration

Today Mr Sharp continued:

“People with disabilities are being treated as an afterthought in this pandemic.

“There is a crucial lack of education and clarity – proprietors should assume that you’re exempt if you enter without wearing a mask.

“You shouldn’t have to explain your personal circumstances to strangers.”

“Businesses need to be better informed,” added another demonstrator.

“People shouldn’t have to prove themselves. Nor should they need badges and lanyards to justify themselves and avoid being bullied.

“The lack of clarity and understanding of exemptions is stopping disabled people from going about their daily lives.”

Elsewhere, campaigner Georgina Fallows has urged the government to introduce mask exemption badges for people who have hidden disabilities, although exemption cards are available on the website.

Speaking to Sky News, she said:

“It’s not so much that I don’t want to wear a face mask, it’s more that I can’t. 

“My life would be a lot easier if I could.

“I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because I was raped and pulled off the street by someone covering my mouth with his hand.

“So, for me, when I wear a face mask the nature of PTSD can mean that you are back there again.

“It can be complete terror. If I have a flashback, it’s a medical emergency.”

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Ms Fallows added:

Georgina Fallows and Glenn Sharp feel those with less obvious disabilities are being discriminated against and stigmatised for not wearing face coverings.

Many of those attending todays demonstration say they feel that fear of the virus itself, and the impact of current restrictions on both physical and mental illnesses is more dangerous than the virus itself.

Contact Gi Grimsby
Email us:
Follows us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest local stories, breaking news and to join the conversation