NHS bosses warn people not to ask GP's for face mask exemptions

NHS bosses in Staffordshire say you should not ask your GP for proof that you are exempt from wearing a face mask.

The warning comes as the wearing of face coverings become mandatory in many public places as of today.

Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance with the law and can refuse entry and police have the powers to enforce the law.

But the priority for general practice is to fight the pandemic.

Dr Steve Fawcett, GP and Medical Director for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire CCGs said: “There are a number of exemptions, but you should not ask your GP for proof you are exempt.

"This is not a good use of a doctor’s time or NHS resources in the current circumstances.

"It is up to individuals to demonstrate they have a valid exemption.

“We know a lot of people feel uncomfortable at the thought of wearing a face mask but there are good reasons for doing so during this phase of the pandemic.

"I would urge people to remind themselves that this will help us to defeat the virus.

“The face covering is required not to protect the wearer, but for those they come into close contact with.

"We know many people can be Coronavirus positive but have no symptoms.

"You could feel fine but pass the virus to someone who may suffer severe health consequences or die."

Dr Fawcett added that one particular group should never have their faces covered.

He said: “Babies should never have their faces covered or be put in a mask because of the danger of suffocation, and children under the age off 11 are exempt in shops."

The following are among the exemptions:

  • Young children under the age of 11
  • Not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability.
  • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe   distress.
  • If you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.
  • To take medication

Shop staff are also not required to wear a face covering.

Dr Fawcett added: “Please only take advice about the virus from official NHS sources.”

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