Saturday, May 25, 2024

Face masks and exemptions

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The Citizens Advice Bureau says face masks are required in some settings under the orange setting of the Covid Protection framework. Photo asms.org_nz

Under the orange setting of the Covid Protection framework face masks are mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, indoor retail, public facilities, food and beverage services (except when eating), close proximity services and for workers at indoor events.

Face masks are encouraged elsewhere. Wearing a face mask may be unsuitable for some people due to age, disability or health conditions, so they are not required to wear one.

These people may have an exemption pass but are not required to carry it or show it.

From May 31, 2022, people who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a face mask can get a new personalised exemption pass from the Ministry of Health.

These new passes will provide greater assurance to businesses that people carrying the pass are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask.

The intent of the pass is that it will help businesses to avoid having difficult conversations with customers because the pass will be conclusive.

Businesses are still not required to check that customers who are not wearing a face mask are carrying an exemption pass.

They do not need to stop people without face masks from entering their premises.

If businesses or services do choose to enforce face mask requirements, then they can ask customers not wearing a mask if they are carrying a personalised exemption pass.

If a person presents a new exemption pass they should allow the person entry into the premises without any further questioning.

The new exemption passes are not the only way that a person can demonstrate that they are unable to wear a face mask. Businesses can accept other forms of evidence if they wish.

If businesses choose not to accept evidence provided from a customer, then they should be aware that could amount to a breach of businesses’ duties and obligations not to discriminate against people with disabilities under the Human Rights Act 1993, which could give a person who feels discriminated against cause to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commissioner.

  • This Solutions Column has been compiled by Vani and is a regular Times editorial from the Pakuranga Citizens Advice Bureau. Email or visit us at the Library Building, Pakuranga, Phone 576 8331 and at Botany Citizens Advice Bureau, rear Food Court entrance, Botany Town Centre, Phone 271 5382 or 0800 367 222 for free, confidential and informative help.

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