'Very embarrassing': Customer's rant sparks mask exemption debate

·3-min read

A woman, who claims to be exempt from wearing a mask for medical reasons, has lashed out on social media after being refused service at a NSW tobacconist.

“It was very embarrassing and I felt discriminated against,” she wrote on Facebook.

“If I could have worn a mask I would have had one on but obviously for medical reasons I can’t, which I tried to show them but they didn’t really care.”

Cropped shot of the rear view of a woman taking off her protective face mask while walking at the park. Source: Getty Images
The public health order in NSW includes a number of lawful reasons for not wearing a mask. Source: Getty Images

The post sparked a heated debate about mask exemptions, with one user responding “she failed to understand that the exemption she had didn’t protect her from Covid-19"

Another said: “Never heard of anyone dying from wearing a mask for a couple of minutes".

Others jumped to her defence and pointed to the list of lawful reasons for not wearing a mask.

The post has since been deleted. It’s not known why the woman was exempt for wearing a mask.

A Facebook post about mask exemptions has sparked fierce debate about the rules. Source: Facebook
A Facebook post about mask exemptions has sparked fierce debate about the rules. Source: Facebook

Concerns over mask exemption changes

As cases of Covid-19 in NSW continue to surge, social media users are fiercely divided over mask exemption rules, which were officially adjusted late last week to require proof of condition and identity.

A Facebook group called NSW Incident Alerts shared the changes in a post, which attracted thousands of heated responses.

The new rules left many outraged over what they claim to be breaches to privacy.

One user wrote: “So wrong! To have to share your health/mental health status everytime you walk into a room or if someone approaches you! Where have our basic human rights to privacy gone…”

“This is actually illegal, your medical issues are between you and your healthcare practitioner.”

Others were skeptical of those seeking an exemption for wearing a mask, with one user questioning how anyone would know if the papers have been forged.

Another wrote: “I’m glad the loophole has been closed. Sick of seeing videos of entitled people yelling at others just trying to do their job.”

“I’ll get a fine if I don’t wear a seatbelt. Same if I don’t wear a mask. It’s not just for your own safety but for the safety of those around you,” commented another.

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What are the face mask exemptions?

There are a number of exemptions under the public health order where some are not required to wear a face mask.

The NSW Government states you are exempt if you have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable.

"For example, if you have a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, you are not required to wear a mask.

"Please be respectful to people who are not wearing a mask as the reasons for not wearing a mask are not always visible or obvious."

File image of a surgical mask on white background. Source: Getty Images
You are exempt if you have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable but you have to provide proof of your condition and identity. Source: Getty Images

If you cannot wear a face mask you must carry either a medical certificate, a statutory declaration or a letter signed by either a registered health practitioner or a registered NDIS provider.

Those who fail to wear a face mask without a lawful reason risk being slapped with a $200 fine.

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