Shoppers and public transport users have to declare their ‘reasonable excuse’ for not wearing a face covering and put up with dirty looks as they buy their bananas or travel to work.
As a good starting point we recommend remains our post on Face covering for 6 to 12 months from 24th July. The face covering regulations do not override other important rights against invasion of privacy and disability discrimination.
The law is complex so we have set it out in an easy to use ‘toolkit’ to use when out an about. It will help individuals and business understand what their rights and obligations in respect of face covering and how claims for compensation can arise if they do what they shouldn’t.
Citizens can carry this on a phone or print off to paper, as this may be effective as an administrative nuisance even if a court claim isn’t made.
The level of detail in the document is necessary for its purpose, but will also give the carrier confidence. This is how it works:
The Tool Kit is HERE
The Starting Point
Page 1: This is a Notice to be presented by anyone who wishes to rely on the ‘reasonable excuse’ exemption when asked why they are not wearing a face covering.
Page 2 and 3: Information about disability discrimination can be provided at the same time. (This may also be distributed in advance to any business that you think needs to know.)
Page 4: This is a warning to the controller of premises, and their workers(s) involved, that may be acting unlawfully in demanding details of your excuse.
Stage 3 – Disclosure of disability
Page 5: If you are unsure whether you have a relevant ‘disability’ in the meaning of section 6(1) of the Equality Act 2010, but believe you might, there is no harm in asserting that you do. There is absolutely nothing you can be sued for if you turn out to be wrong. (NB: dishonesty to a relevant enforcement officer carrying out their function could be an offence of unlawful obstruction.)
If you feel obliged to disclose that you suffer from a ‘disability’, this formally advises the person you are dealing with that you consider that, even though you have not yet given any details of what that disability is, they have committed an act of disability discrimination in requiring you to make this disclosure.
Stage 4 – Disclosure of details of my health condition
Page 6: If you have felt obliged to disclose details of your health condition in order to satisfy the demand for explanation of your reasonable excuse or disability, this records what you have disclosed and that you consider them to have committed a further act of disability discrimination. This section of the toolkit is best completed in advance and ready to present when challenged. Have a copy with you to be provided by hand or electronically as you wish.
Litigation threats to businesses and individuals
At each of stage 5 and 6 is a notice of dispute and requirement for business to retain copies of any CCTV (and documents you have handed over) that are relevant to the dispute. This may be evidence, for example, simply of your presenting information or, no doubt in some cases, the distress or harassment being suffered. This would be relevant if and when you choose to pursue prosecution and/or a claim for compensation.
(We would of course recommend specialist advice is sought first.)
Administrative headaches for businesses
Even if you just consider making a claim, you may want to make a GDPR subject access request under the Data Protection Act 2018 seeking copies of those records. For businesses this may present a real administrative headache to be avoided.
The Tool Kit is also HERE
Warning: Law and circumstances can change very quickly. Please note the date of publication of any blog post and check for any updates on the issues addressed. In any event, we do not condone or encourage breaching the law and neither the above nor any information posted on this website constitutes legal advice. It must not be relied upon as such and specialist legal advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Please read our disclaimer.