A FACE covering exemption card is now available amid fears those unable to wear a mask could face discrimination.

It is hoped the Scottish Government card will allow people unable to cover their face to feel more confident and safer when using public services and transport.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport, shops and a host of other areas amid the fight to suppress Covid-19 – with rules recently extended to cover communal workplace areas.

But some are unable to wear a face covering due to health conditions or special circumstances.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering can request a physical card from Disability Equality Scotland which can be worn on a lanyard or kept in a wallet. Digital cards are also available to be displayed on a phone or electronic device.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley Anne Somerville, said: “Everyone who can do so is legally obliged to wear a face covering where it is mandated by law. But there are some people who cannot, due to health conditions, disabilities or other special circumstances where a face covering may cause difficulty or distress.

“Discrimination against people in this situation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We have developed this card in conjunction with a range of equality stakeholders as something which can clearly communicate to others if you are exempt from the regulations.”

The face covering exemption card is branded with the Healthier Scotland and NHS Scotland logos under the FACTS for a Safer Scotland campaign.

Morven Brooks, chief executive officer of Disability Equality Scotland, said: “Since face coverings became mandatory, we have been inundated with calls from our members, many of whom cannot wear face coverings for a variety of health reasons.

“The launch of the Scottish Government exemption card will help disabled people to feel more comfortable and confident to go about their daily lives free from fear of harassment and abuse.”

Joseph Carter, head of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland, has previously campaigned for an exemption card to be rolled out.

He said: “We are pleased that a Government backed exemption card has been created and we hope this will ensure no one faces any more prejudice during this very stressful time.”

Physical and digital cards are available to request online at exempt.scot or via a free helpline on 0800 121 6240.