To help prevent the spread of coronavirus it became compulsory for passengers using public transport in England to wear a face covering on Monday 15 June 2020.
There are some people who are exempt from this rule, including all children aged under 11 and people with particular illnesses or conditions.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of conditions which might mean someone is exempt or does not have to wear a face covering:
- Breathing difficulties, eg. asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Conditions affecting dexterity and the ability to use your hands
- Mental health conditions, including anxiety or panic disorder
- Visual impairments or people with a restricted field of vision
- Anyone reliant on lip reading, including companions or carers where a face covering would prevent communication
If people need to take medication whilst travelling, they are permitted to remove their face covering to do so.
We recognise that some of our passengers who are exempt from wearing a face covering may feel uncomfortable while travelling. To help with this, we encourage any passenger who is concerned to obtain a free sunflower lanyard. The sunflower lanyard is recognised across the transport sector as a discreet way to indicate the wearer may have additional needs that are hidden or not immediately visible. It is not mandatory to wear a lanyard to prove exemption from wearing a face covering but it may give the wearer confidence if they are approached and challenged.
Customers can collect a sunflower lanyard free of charge at many larger stations on the railway network. They will be available at our staffed stations within the next couple of weeks. Please ask a member of station staff for more details.
Passengers who do not wish to wear a lanyard but would like another way to discreetly indicate their condition if asked, can:
- Carry a JAM card – this stands for ‘Just A Minute’ and is used by many people with autism and communication barriers
- Carry a Passenger Support Card – available here
We know face coverings are a problem if you need to lip read. If you carry a JAM card or Passenger Support Card please show this to a member of staff so we can make adjustments.
We ask our passengers to be considerate when travelling with someone who is not wearing a face covering. Please note that some railway staff, particularly those isolated from others such as train drivers, may also be exempt.