How Covid rules are oppressing the marginalised
If your country or state expects you to wear a mask in particular situations – perhaps even whenever you’re outside – then there should be exceptions.
I’m talking about England, but the principles remain wherever you are.
I believe in recommendation, not regulation.
I’ve discussed the dubious legality and medical veracity of masks in a previous post.
I’ve been checking with shops, transport and services about face coverings (note it’s not masks) and their knowledge of exemptions. In England, the rules are broad and vague. It even says that coverings – any kind will do – are to be worn where social distancing isn’t possible – which actually precludes most places.
The government website says that services must be understanding to those that can’t wear face coverings, and one of the non exhaustive reasons is simply those who would suffer distress. That isn’t defined. We’re (rightly) not required to prove or discuss it.
Some staff know the rules, some don’t – and yet they’ve threatened to debar entry without a mask. One train company was even stupid enough to say that if they suspect that people are making an excuse via claiming exemption, they’ll take action.
So will I.
Have they not heard of hidden disabilities? Is every physical condition you have something that everyone knows about you? Are we obliged to get these diagnosed by doctors? (NO).
And neither security nor police have the right to pry or to assess us.
I am very loathe to call autism a disability – I see it as a trait. But there are people in this wide spectrum who more ignorant people don’t recognise as such. Some might struggle with social distancing. It isn’t only those who may obviously appear autistic who get distressed by masks.
There are wider variations of neurodiversity – such as giftedness, high sensitivity, and empaths.
If you don’t recognise these in either sense, then you should not be someone who is front of house, making any decision about entry, policy, or enforcement.
There are people with what we (often unfairly) term mental illness.
There are those with anxiety, and who get panic attacks. I wonder if it affects those with epilepsy.
There are those we call learning disabled, although I’ve seen posters against such a term which can seem so derogatory.
There are those with hearing impairment who need to lip read.
We might also have been traumatised…attacked or abused…
I’m touching just on a few of the types of people who are very distressed by wearing a mask.
This is also true – and perhaps more so – of temperature taking, testing – especially drive throughs, where people are trapped and can’t choose. Having people swab us or inject us is a huge deal.
Some people really hate being touched, or having people stand near, especially aggressively.
Threatening or debarring these people is going to exacerbate.
So before you misjudge – remember: only police can enforce law, and if you call them or refuse entry or try to arrest or contain, you’re causing offence in both senses. If you pick on any of the above persons, you’ll additionally have a disability/diversity law suit and I encourage anyone who suffers to make it known and take it further. There’s already been litigation in the US.
In England, there are exemption cards you can download and wear from photosymbols.com, which are also available via local and national societies, eg for disability or autism.
Face covering is a bungled piece of legislature, but people who already have extra challenges and live in challenging times shouldn’t have that worsened.
I know of people with special conditions who are in tears and in overwhelm because of how hard going to a shop or cafe is, who’ve been bullied in a library, and who don’t dare ride on trains.
Now they can’t even have the comfort of attending an act of worship.
All because of inappropriate rules and ignorant aggressive staff trying to force them.
It’s not keeping anyone safe. If you harm someone in the name of stopping the spread of illness, it’s like shooting them to stop them getting run over. Especially if shooting is part of a larger agenda…
Yes, shops, services and transport also have pressure on them.
So the clear message to them, and to governments and their agents is:
If you want custom, not complaints; good publicity, and your business and administration to survive Covid
Stop oppressing your people.
If you’ve had trouble for not wearing a mask, contact tracing, or anything else, please write a comment