ScotFree: Shopping Unmasked

As the illustration shows, it is a legal right to shop and conduct business in Scotland without wearing a mask due to exemption on grounds of disability/ health conditions, as provided for in Scottish Government regulations published on Friday 10th July 2020. Distant shop staff,  infants and anyone in a cafe etc. are also covered (see details).

The posting of any public notice which fails to mention such exemption is illegal under two Acts of Parliament: the UK Data Protection Act (2018) which embeds the GDPR into UK law and regulates the processing of data (including requesting it) especially sensitive data as related to health/ disability; and the UK Equality Act (2010) which protects everyone, especially those under the 9 protected characteristics – one of which is disability.

In short, anyone not wearing a mask in any building or vehicle in Scotland where mask-wearing is mandatory should be assumed by the general public and by the staff of that location to be covered by legal exemption.

  • Any enquiry as to why they are not wearing a mask is illegal and constitutes at least harassment and may constitute direct discrimination as all businesses and services have an anticipatory duty to provide (hassle-free) access to disabled people.

My advice is to keep calm and to request to see the Manager/ HR and explain the legal repercussions of such illegal posting/ enquiries. Under Scots Law the individual may be liable even as staff if acting on “his/ her own frolic”; the company is liable if the staff member can prove that (despite Staff Training including both UK laws) the company has required such posting or enquiry. Be kind and explain that you really like this shop/ business and you just want to give them a (free) legal “heads up” because you don’t want anyone suing them. Cos we know what people are like!

Violation of either Act of Parliament carries huge financial penalty.

On a completely unrelated note, if you live in an area of air pollution (anything above a village in the back of beyond, basically) you are likely to have a degree of intellectual disability. Now, according to the 2010 Act, disability is something that affects your day-to-day living (find you can’t think straight ever?) for over a period of a year – and it doesn’t have to manifest constantly. You can have a fluctuating condition.  Anyway, even in the back of beyond (like the Arctic) micro pollutants are affecting our health. So every single one of us has a health condition and we can also assume that we’re disabled. Co-incidentally, that means everyone’s covered by the exemptions above.

Now. I’m not telling you to make copies of this illustration and keep it handy to present/ reference in such situations. No, no. And I’m not saying “PLEASE SHARE THIS POST FAR AND WIDE COS IT’S URGENT UNLESS YOU WANT TYRANNY!” No, no.

But you could.


Illustration released into the Public Domain, with link to this post, by Alan McManus, 10th July 2020.