People in Scotland who are unable to cover their faces due to medical reasons have spoken of their fear of being challenged and harassed in shops.

On Friday, it became compulsory for Scots to wear face coverings in shops to limit the spread of Covid-19, following previously issued guidelines which required the use of masks or coverings on public transport including buses, trains, taxis and ferries.

However, people who suffer from physical medical conditions including asthma and disabilities such as autism have found that they cannot cover their faces.

Nearly 60% of people in the UK who cannot wear a face-covering fear being challenged for not wearing one, according to figures from Disability Rights UK, with the same amount feeling they lack the confidence to stand up for themselves if they were challenged.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about face coverings in Scotland

Concerns and fears of people have been released to The Herald on the condition of anonymity.

One admitted: “I have been trying to wear a mask even though I can’t breathe as people are so aggressive.”

Another said: “I care for an elderly person who lip-reads - I'm nervous that people would challenge me in shops when accompanying them and don't want to embarrass them by loudly explaining.”

A Scot admitted: “I have been anxious about being out in public and challenged about not wearing a mask.  

"My asthma is severe and frequently triggered by face coverings of even the thinnest materials.”

One Scot said several members of the public just do not understand why some people cannot wear masks.

They said: “It is incredibly hard keeping masks on the faces of brain-injured people because they simply don't understand why it is needed. If, in addition, they have breathing difficulties - it is a non-starter.”

But now, these fears could be eased with a new initiative to help disabled people and individuals with hidden impairments navigate the complexities of social distancing.

Scottish charity Euan's Guide, who focus on making it easier for disabled people to get out and about, is providing free 'face mask exempt' badges to help people who cannot wear a face covering to leave their homes and travel without harassment.

They are one of several charities offering 'exempt' passes to vulnerable Scots, with Hidden Disabilities offering a card to show businesses and members of the public that the holder has a hidden disability.

The badges were introduced by the charity after users of Euan's Guide shared their concerns about how they were being treated when out in public.

Paul Ralph, access & inclusion director at Euan’s Guide said: “People are often quick to judge, which can make it intimidating to travel when you are going against the majority and seemingly ‘violating’ the rules.  

"Individual reasons for not wearing face masks are not always obvious, which is why we’ve created these badges so that the wearer feels more confident to travel and to ensure that everyone knows that some people are exempt from the face-covering rule in England and Scotland.”

The charity has already had requests for over 4000 badges which are to be given out free of charge. 

READ MORE: Where to buy face coverings from independent stores in Scotland

They hope to be able to produce and distribute more badges with the support of donations. 

Those who had previously been anxious about leaving their homes have expressed said the badges will make a 'real difference'.

One said: "I was filled with dread at the thought of not being able to go into a shop/pharmacy because I can’t wear a mask.

"I can’t stand anything on my face & get distressed/anxious not a lot of people understand this.

"Hopefully wearing the badge will stop any confrontation that would come my way."

Anyone looking to request a badge or find out more about how they can support this project should visit their website here