Community Reassurance Message
Published: 12 October 2020
There are several exemptions in the guidance for people who cannot wear face coverings. A
full list can be found on the Scottish Government website. Exemptions included are:
*you have a health condition or you are disabled and a face covering would be
inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or
anxiety, or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it safely and
consistently in the proper manner. Individual discretion should be applied in
considering the use of face coverings for children and young people, for
example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would
struggle to wear a face covering
* you need to eat or drink
* you are taking medication
* you are communicating with someone who relies on lip reading.
Police Scotland wants to reassure disabled communities that we take reports of people being
targeted seriously. We would encourage the public to consider the implications of coronavirus
(COVID-19) guidelines on disabled communities before challenging people. We want to prevent
these incidents occurring and to ensure disabled people feel safe in their communities.
We will continue to work with the Scottish Government and other partners to ensure the public
is aware of issues which directly affect disabled communities.
Police Scotland has circulated guidance to frontline police officers and staff to ensure they
consider disabilities when engaging with people, particularly given the impact of coronavirus
We understand some disabled people may choose to carry a card or wear a lanyard stating
they have exemptions from wearing face coverings or to identify a disability. Individuals are
under absolutely no obligation to carry information or to show it to anyone. Police Scotland
officers will not ask you to provide any evidence of an exemption or disability. We will support
your right to do this if it makes you feel more confident going about your daily life and will ensure
we consider this if you choose to disclose this information.
Police Scotland’s policing style response to coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be based on
a desire to work together and ensure everyone’s safety with enforcement of legislation a last
resort. Our approach will continue to be:
*Engage to establish the individual’s circumstances and if they are aware of
guidelines in place.
*Explain the risks to public health and to the NHS in line with government
* Encourage voluntary compliance.
* Enforce only if officers are faced with non-compliance and as a last resort.
In the coming weeks and months, we urge everyone to continue to work together,
ensuring no person or group in Scotland feels marginalised or isolated.
Police Scotland does not tolerate the targeting of individuals or communities, or any
form of hate crime. Should anyone experience or witness such an incident please report
You can contact Police Scotland by:
dialling 101, or 999 in an emergency
via SMS 999 – you must register for this service before using it
using Text Relay using the BT Relay UK app or textphone
you can also use our online hate crime reporting form on the Police Scotland website.
Hate Crime can also be reported via one of our third party reporting centres.
More information on third party reporting can be found on our Police Scotland