This is a bitter turnabout: and Boris Johnson should be the first to admit that people in masks used to be the criminals rather than those in fear of crime:
Disabled people are frightened about travelling as lockdown eases due to a lack of public awareness and clarity about exemptions to the mandatory need to wear face coverings on public transport, according to a new survey by Disability Rights UK.
Nearly 40% of respondents said that they cannot wear a face covering and just under half said that mental health conditions and breathing impairments would prevent them from wearing a mask, with a fifth citing sensory issues and needing to intake medication and/or food and drink while travelling.
Nearly forty per cent said they had a hidden disability which affects their ability to wear a mask, and 13% said they needed to lip read.
Nearly 60% said they feared being challenged if they did not wear a mask, with the same amount not feeling they had the confidence to stand up for themselves if challenged.
Almost 70% said they feared being judged for not wearing a mask, and 55% feared being the victim of a hate crime if they were seen without a mask.
The fact that more than half of people with disabilities who cannot wear masks fear hate crime says everything we need to know about the prejudiced and judgemental attitudes that have been created in the UK – mostly by the government.
And the Tories have been blamed for creating the current situation – by switching policies with extremely short notice.
Fazilet Hadi, Disability Rights UK Head of Policy, said the Government must improve its communications strategies with big shifts like this.
“Releasing information on a Sunday for a Monday morning start, with no awareness campaign, no posters on buses and trains to provide reassurance about exemptions, and guidance hidden deep on the gov.uk website leads to the kind of horror stories we have been hearing from disabled people.
“Members of the public have been calling the police on them for not wearing masks while on trains, and British Transport Police refusing to let people through station barriers without face coverings, even when they have insisted they have an impairment which makes them exempt.
“As one survey respondent said: ‘Having both fines for not wearing a mask, and an unproveable exemption alongside each other is an impossible situation. Greater global clarity is needed, and fast.'”
So next time you’re out on the streets, if you see someone who isn’t wearing a mask, don’t jump to aggressive conclusions!
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