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Disabled shopper asserts his right to enter supermarkets without wearing a mask

A disabled shopper who was refused service and expelled from his local Morrisons store because his wasn’t wearing a mask wants others to be aware of their legal rights.

Posted on 13 January 2021

The 38-year-old asthmatic who suffers poor mental health and has learning difficulties was stopped by a security guard at Bracknell Morrisons on Tuesday, 12 January, 2021.
When he was challenged by a security guard for not wearing a mask, the shopper, who receives disability living allowance and lives alone, explained that he was exempt from wearing a mask because of his disabilities, and tried to show the guard screenshots of the relevant legislation on his smartphone.
The guard dismissed the gov.uk website as ‘fake news’ and the shopper made his way into the store.
However, when the duty manager was called, the shopper was sent out of the store and it was remarked that he was the “first victim” of the new policy.
Now he wants other mask-exempt shoppers to be aware of their rights and wants reassurance that supermarket bosses will take their responsibility towards their disability-affected customers seriously.
The shopper said:
“The security guard said I had made up the information I tried to give him about the law which says that disabled people have rights and should be protected.
“I don’t want other disabled people and people who can’t wear a mask because of breathing difficulties or because of the danger of a panic attack to live in fear and be fearful of going to the supermarket.”
Leigh Day solicitor Ryan Bradshaw said:
“The Equality Act protects the rights of disabled people who want to use shops but are unable to wear a mask. Given that the government’s own guidance provides exemptions from the requirement to wear a mask, a blanket ban on people without masks entering shops is likely to be illegal and unenforceable.
“We are calling on all shops to review their policies and ensure that those with disabilities are able to access their premises in a manner that minimises the risk to them, other shoppers and their staff.”

Ryan Bradshaw
Discrimination Employment Human rights

Ryan Bradshaw

Ryan advises on human rights, discrimination and employment law

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