Full list of reasons you can refuse to wear a face mask and not get fined under new rules

25 September 2020, 10:29 | Updated: 25 September 2020, 10:39

The full list of face mask exemptions
The full list of face mask exemptions. Picture: Getty Images/PA Images

There are six reasons you are exempt from wearing a face covering in the UK.

The government recently brought in tough new social distancing measures across the UK following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

As well as shutting pubs and restaurants at 10pm, the PM has also increased fines for those not wearing face masks when in public places from £100 to £200 in England. The penalty is £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Face coverings were already compulsory on public transport and in stores, supermarkets, takeaways and cinemas.

They are now mandatory in taxis and all hospitality venues, while staff in pubs, restaurants and shops also have to wear them.

But there are some exceptions to the rules, with many people across the UK being exempt.

Face masks are mandatory in public places across the UK
Face masks are mandatory in public places across the UK. Picture: Getty Images

See the full list of face mask exemptions below:

Health condition

The government website states that if you have lung conditions such as asthma then you don’t need to wear a face covering.

Read More: Can you still get a takeaway after 10pm? New rules explained

Other conditions include chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer.

Autism Eye says the exemption also covers passengers with autism, while you won’t be fined if you remove a mask to take medication.


It is not compulsory for children under the age of 11 to wear a face mask.

Public Health England advises against face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons.

With someone who has impaired hearing

According to the Gov website, those who are providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading or clear sound to communicate are not required to wear a mask.

Police officers don't have to wear face masks
Police officers don't have to wear face masks. Picture: PA Images

Police officers and emergency workers

Police officers and other emergency workers do not have to wear coverings as this could affect the way they do their job.

This includes paramedics, firefighters and border force officers are included in the exemption who are on duty.

If you are at risk of harm or to avoid harming others

You are allowed to not wear a mask to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others.

If it will cause you severe distress, to put on, wear or remove a face covering you are also exempt.

Private vehicles

If you are travelling in a private cabin or berth on your own or with members of your household then you don’t have to wear a mask.

Other reasons

if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification

if asked to do so by shop staff 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 you are getting married in a relevant place

if you are delivering a sermon or prayer in a place or worship

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 required in order to receive treatment or services

if you are a professional sports person, 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

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