Increased fines for not wearing face masks will increase pressure on disabled people, DRUK CEO warns
Last week, the UK Government announced a series of new enforcement measures to help tackle serious breaches of social distancing restrictions as more venues and business sectors were permitted to reopen.
Part of these new enforcement measures across England include fining people for not wearing face coverings where mandated. The new rules will see the £100 fine for a first offence double with every misdemeanour up to a maximum of £3,200.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled these new measures as a number of remaining aspects of England’s culture, sport, leisure and business sectors were permitted to reopen at the weekend, except for specific areas where local restrictions are still in place.
Furthermore, the PM has confirmed that all staff offering close contact services, including occupational therapy services, will now be required to wear a type 2 surgical face mask in addition to a clear visor that covers the face to help prevent transmission of coronavirus.
Various venues and business sectors have been allowed to reopened as the UK Government says levels of COVID-19 have fallen across England.
However, the PM has warned that if coronavirus levels increase in England, the UK Government will not hesitate to “put on the brakes” if required or implement more local lockdown restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.
In light of these restriction easements, the UK Government has now confirmed that fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings where mandated will be significantly increased in the coming weeks, and on the spot fines for hosting or facilitating illegal gatherings of more than 30 people will be introduced.
Discussing the new enforcement measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent. That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules.
“At every stage I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional and that it relies on continued progress against the virus.
“Today, we are able to announce some further changes which will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed. However, as I have always said, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus.”
However, the government’s decision to introduce fines for people not wearing face coverings where mandated has been met with concerns by Disability Rights UK CEO Kamran Mallick, who highlighted that increased fines will add additional pressure to disabled people.
Responding to the UK Government’s new enforcement measures, Kamran commented: “These moves, while designed to protect us all, will place further pressure on disabled people who are exempt from wearing a face covering.
“Not every disability is visible. We have welcomed the government’s commitment to increasing messaging to make the public aware that not everybody is able to wear a face covering, but we are receiving ever increasing reports of disabled people being aggressively challenged or disbelieved by members of the public when they are not wearing masks.
“Businesses need to join in government’s intention in clearly displaying signs explaining that not everybody is able to wear a face covering.”
To help tackle the issue of disabled people being judged or challenged for not wearing face masks, disability access review site Euan’s Guide produced ‘face mask exempt badges’ that allow disabled people to quickly communicate to others their face mask exemption status.
According to the charity, the motivation behind the badges is to make people feel more comfortable visiting places where the majority of people will be wearing face coverings.