Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the launch of an exemption card for face coverings from the Scottish Government. This is to support those who are unable to wear one to feel more confident and safe when accessing public spaces and using public services.

The face covering exemption card is branded with the Healthier Scotland and NHS Scotland logos under the FACTS for a Safer Scotland campaign.

A physical card can be requested from Disability Equality Scotland to wear on a lanyard or hold in a wallet, while a digital card is also available to be displayed on a phone, tablet or other device.

The SNP MSP for Cunninghame South said: “While the wearing of face coverings in indoor public settings is mandatory by law as we fight the Covid pandemic, many people have legitimate health reasons why they are not able to wear them. As such they will be worried about being shamed or harassed.

“The exemption card will allow people to feel confident while going about their business without facing prejudice. I would like to urge residents to not assume deliberate non compliance with public health guidelines when they see people are not wearing a mask. We are all trying hard to live within the rules to the best of our abilities.”

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley Anne Somerville said: “Everyone who can do so is legally obliged to wear a face covering where it is mandated by law. But there are some people who cannot, due to health conditions, disabilities or other special circumstances where a face covering may cause difficulty or distress.

“Discrimination against people in this situation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We have developed this card in conjunction with a range of equality stakeholders as something which can clearly communicate to others if you are exempt from the regulations.”

Morven Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Equality Scotland, said: “Since face coverings became mandatory, we have been inundated with calls from our members, many of whom cannot wear face coverings for a variety of health reasons.

“The launch of the Scottish Government exemption card will help disabled people to feel more comfortable and confident to go about their daily lives free from fear of harassment and abuse.”

Physical and digital cards are available to request online from 29 October at www.exempt.scot or via a free helpline on 0800 121 6240.