I am writing to complain about the experience I suffered when shopping at your store in [insert details] on [insert date]. I was upset to have been denied access to the store by [insert name of person if you have it, if not say security guard, manager, store assistant etc], on the grounds I was not wearing a mask.
Firstly, under legislation that came into force on 24th July 2020, no person is required to wear a face mask. They are only required to wear a face-covering of their choosing. Said face covering is not defined, save that it must cover a person’s nose and mouth.
Secondly, I have a valid exemption of the type mentioned at 4 (a) (1) of the legislation, which prevents me from wearing a face covering.
Upon explaining this to your store at [insert details], I was flatly refused entry to the same. Not only was this profoundly embarrassing and upsetting for me, but it is also entirely out of kilter with the legislation in force which can be found under statutory instrument number 791, on the government’s website. I ask that you familiarise yourself with this piece of legislation as it has a two-way effect between the public and shop premises, and as such, both shoppers and those that own a shop, are required to adhere to the provisions of the same in equal measure.
I would particularly like to draw your attention to part 2, 4 of the above mentioned statutory instrument, which deals with the issue of “reasonable excuses”, as they importantly have the effect that a person is NOT required to wear a face covering. The section states:
(1) For the purposes of regulation 3(1), the circumstances in which a person (“P”) has a reasonable excuse include those where—
(a)P cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering—
(i)because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010(10)), or(ii)without severe distress;
(b)P is accompanying, or providing assistance to, another person (“B”) and B relies on lip reading to communicate with P;
(c)P removes their face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others;
(d)P is entering or within a relevant place to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and does not have a face covering with them;
(e)it is reasonably necessary for P to eat or drink, P removes their face covering to eat or drink;
(f)P has to remove their face covering to take medication;
(g)a person responsible for a relevant place or an employee of that person acting in the course of their employment, requires that P remove their face covering in order to verify P’s identity;
(h)in a registered pharmacy, an employee of that registered pharmacy acting in the course of their employment, requires that P remove their face covering in order to assist in the provision of healthcare or healthcare advice to P;
(i)a relevant person requests that P remove their face covering.I fall into category [state category] above and as such am an exempted person.
Nowhere in the statutory instrument does it state that I am required to prove that I fall into this category. Government guidance itself also states the following on the issue of exemptions to wearing a face covering :”If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering:you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this you do not need show an exemption card. This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering. Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law”.
Perhaps you would consider availing yourself of this guidance, which again can be easily found on the government’s website, by performing a simple “Google” search. Given that the law and guidance clearly state that it is perfectly acceptable for me to simply say I have a medical exemption if I am asked why I am not wearing a face covering, your store should accept this statement. I do not need to explain myself or what my exemption is for. I do not need to display a badge, or have a letter from my Doctor, and I do not need to be made to feel uncomfortable, unwanted, and indeed ostracized by your staff and the other shoppers at your stores. Your staff are not designated enforcers of the legislation, and neither are your customers. With that in mind the behaviour of your staff member to me on [insert date] is both unacceptable and unlawful. Your staff member’s ignorance of the law, and their attitude to me, and, I can only assume, others with a disability, only serves to discriminate, and to foster abuse by staff and shoppers towards a group that is already disadvantaged and marginalised.
This is in no way acceptable and as I have said above is unlawful, as not only is it not in accordance with the legal provisions of the above mentioned statutory instrument, it is also a direct breach of the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
As the refusal of entry to me is a clear discrimination against a person with a disability, I am now considering taking appropriate legal advice with a view to issuing proceedings against your store, for an infringement of my rights under the Equality Act.
It is deeply concerning that you as a retailer have failed:
1. to read the legislation to which YOU and I are both bound to adhere to, and
2. have chosen to ignore the guidance to supplement that legislation.
It also seems that your stores do not support the rights of people with disabilities. As a result your stores ARE promoting a backward step for this demographic of society, which is deeply troubling. I request an answer in writing to my above complaint be sent to me within 14 days of the date of this letter, together with an apology for the distress I have suffered as a result of the actions of your staff at [insert details].
I request that you also confirm in writing that you have put in place adequate training for your staff, as regards the law that you and they are subject to, so that neither I, nor anyone else, has to suffer the indignity that I experienced recently.
I await hearing from you.