A card is being developed that can be carried by people who are exempt from wearing a face covering.
Under coronavirus rules, people have to wear a face mask in many indoor spaces such as public transport, shops and in places like cinemas, galleries, museums, libraries and banks unless they are exempt from doing so.
Those not required to wear them include people with certain health conditions and disabilities, including hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia or a learning disability.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said she hopes the new card scheme will be introduced soon and provide reassurance to people who may feel they are being judged for not wearing a mask.
She said: “I am very aware that for some people, for whom wearing a face covering is very difficult indeed because of a health condition that they have, that there is concern for some about how other people see them and judge them, so we are working on a card that individuals in those circumstances will be able to have.
“I hope it’s almost finished its development and we are working out how we would distribute that to those who genuinely would qualify for it without overburdening our GPs or anyone else.
“We’ve almost completed that exercise so I would hope it would be available to people very soon.”
Freeman urged people not to jump to judge people if they see someone not wearing a face covering in a shop.
“Let’s not make other people’s lives more difficult than it needs to be,” she said.
“Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt – if they’re not wearing a face covering just maybe that’s because it is too difficult for them to do.”
Others exempt from wearing a mask include children under five and people providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person where wearing a face covering would make this more difficult.
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