Covid Mask Rules
Coronavirus (COVID‑19) Covid Mask Exemption Rules on Face Coverings
Rules Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions
When you do not need to wear a face covering
In settings where face coverings are required in England there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others ‒ including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity
- police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering:
- if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
- if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, for assessing health recommendations (for example by a pharmacist) or for age identification purposes, including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- if required in order to receive treatment or services, for example when getting a facial
- in order to take medication
- if you are delivering a sermon or prayer in a place of worship
- if you are the persons getting married in a relevant place
- if you are aged 11 to 18 attending a faith school and having lessons in a place of worship as part of your core curriculum
- if you are undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact your ability to do so
- if you are an elite sports person, professional dancer or referee acting in the course of your employment
- when seated to eat or drink in a hospitality premise such as a pub, bar, restaurant or cafe. You must put a face covering back on once you finish eating or drinking
The government’s guidance for keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services clearly advises that designated indoor seating areas for customers to eat or drink should at this time only be open for table service, where possible, alongside additional infection control measures.
If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering:
- you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this
- you do not need show an exemption card
This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.
However, some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.
For exemptions in different parts of the UK please refer to the specific guidance for
If you have any coronavirus symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste
Get a test and stay at home
Find out what support you can get
For example, if you’re out of work, need to get food, or want to take care of your mental health.
Recent and upcoming changes
From 4am, 18 January
Most people travelling to England from abroad need proof of a negative coronavirus test result. You need to have taken the test in the 3 days before you travel to England.
Shielding has resumed in England. If you’re shielding, do not attend work, school, college or university. You can get support if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, for example priority access to supermarket deliveries.
Guidance and support
More than a third of over 80s vaccinated against COVID-19
Published 14 January 2021
Travel from South American destinations, Portugal, Panama and Cape Verde banned to prevent spread of new variant
Published 14 January 2021
Government publishes plan for the largest vaccination programme in British history
Published 11 January 2021
All coronavirus information on GOV.UK