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Face Coverings - what this means for people who are deaf or have hearing loss

In Scotland and England customers in shops are now required by law to wear a face covering when in a shop or supermarket. Shoppers in Wales and Northern Ireland are not currently required to wear them, although both nations have said this will be kept under review - meaning they could change their rules too.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:
  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a health condition or a disability.
We know that this new requirement will create new challenges for the twelve million people across the UK who have some form of hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss rely on lip reading to communicate and face coverings make this extremely difficult, very often impossible.

However if you need to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading, or if you have another good reason you won’t be acting illegally or face a penalty if you remove your face covering to communicate with someone with hearing loss in.  This means customers and staff members can remove their masks for the purposes of communicating with customers or staff member with hearing loss where necessary and other means of communication are not available or are inaccessible.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the Royal National Institute for Deaf People) has published some practical advice for members of the public about communicating with someone with hearing loss on their website.  It can be downloaded, printed and put up on notice boards. Find out more >>

For more general information regarding face coverings, see our 'Mandatory Face Coverings' page.

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