Police apologize to man who has been asked to leave Sainsbury’s for not having a face mask


West Midlands Police “have sincerely apologized for any distress and upheaval” caused after police challenged a man from Sainsbury’s to not wear a mask.The force said officers “misinterpreted the guidelines” after telling the man it was legally required to present an exemption card or badge.

The incident is believed to have occurred in October at Sainsbury’s store in Oldbury.

After being arrested, the man was asked to leave the store.

West Midlands Police have since updated officers’ knowledge of the rules and issued a major apology online to the man and his wife.

His official statement read: “We are committed to protecting our communities from the deadly virus, but on this occasion we were wrong because the man told us he was exempt.

Sainsbury’s à Oldbury

“We have declared that showing an exemption card or badge is a legal requirement. It was incorrect and the officers misinterpreted the instructions.

“We sincerely apologize for any distress and upheaval we have caused to the man and his wife.

“These are unprecedented times and we are all adapting to new legislation and new guidelines that changed several times during the pandemic.

“The officers were asked about their understanding of the guidelines and legislation in force regarding the wearing of face masks.

“We’ll also make sure this is shared with all of our force officers, so we’re sure we’re all clear on the current guidelines.

After new lockdown restrictions were imposed in Birmingham, we visited the Morrisons supermarket on Hagley Road in Edgbaston and counted 111 out of 220 non-masked shoppers who entered the store during lunch time.

In October, we counted that more than one in four bus passengers at Colmore Row risked a potential £ 100 fine by not wearing a mask on public transport.

Safer Partnership Birmingham told BirminghamLive it has only issued five fixed penalty notices since June 29.

Wearing face masks in shops was made mandatory from Friday July 24 and the new rule meant anyone without a valid exemption for doing so could be fined £ 100 for breaking the rules.

Birmingham City Council Public Health Director Dr Justin Varney presented BirminghamLive with a simple video demonstration of how to apply a mask with maximum effect – and also offered ten tips.

In another incident captured on video at Sainsbury’s Oldbury store, a woman was seen arguing with a police officer over not wearing a mask – prompting her to hand over her basket.

Freeth Street, Oldbury.

What the government says

If you have age, health, or disability reasons for not wearing a face mask:

  • you do not need to systematically present written proof of this
  • you do not need to present an exemption card

This means you don’t need to seek advice or request a letter from a healthcare professional about why you are not wearing a face mask.

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they don’t have to wear a face mask. This can take the form of an exemption card, badge, or even a homemade sign.

Wearing an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.

Face cover – rules from November 5

The final facial cover guidance page on the government website page here was last updated on November 4, and detailed restrictions would begin on Thursday, November 5 – the day the second lockdown started.

The instructions, called “Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own” are over 2,900 words long.

The guide includes the following information

  • what are the face coverings
  • how face coverings can reduce the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • the parameters in which they are recommended
  • how face coverings should be used and stored safely

The government adds: “This information is based on current scientific evidence and is subject to change. “


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