Man with mask exemption after heart failure told to leave shop despite lanyard

Jason Boulton, 50, has level 2 heart failure which causes breathlessness and wearing a mask for more than a couple of minutes is bad for his condition. He ordered an NHS lanyard off the NHS website at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to show he was exempt from wearing a mask.

But the retail sector worker was turned away from a shop in St Asaph, north Wales, despite explaining his condition – although they did offer to serve him outside.

He does not want the store named because he does not want to damage the business, North Wales Live reports.

Jason said: “She recognised that the lanyard was genuine but would still not let me stay. I said to her ‘I don’t think you can do that’.

“I think on Monday everyone was on ‘high alert’ because the rules were changing in England and perhaps this was on her mind, that she needed to get this message out but I won’t be coming back.

“It has made me worry about something similar happening to someone else which is why I want to raise this. I just don’t think they can do this.”

All restrictions were lifted in England on Monday – dubbed Freedom Day – but this has led to confusion on public transport, in supermarkets and in shops.

But in Wales, it remains a legal requirement to wear face masks until August 7.

James wants retaillers to be more understanding in the current climate.

He added: “I suffer from heart failure but I am 50 and look okay so perhaps don’t look like I have a disability.

“But due to my condition I struggle after a few minutes if I’m wearing a mask. I get breathless and wearing a mask makes it worse.

“I walked into the shop which had no one else in. As we were far away from the counter, a lady shouted over that I needed to put a mask on.

“I explained I was medically exempt, she seemed to accept that but said I still had to go out.

“To be fair she offered to bring goods out and for us to pay outside too but we didn’t know exactly what we wanted and wanted to look around and choose.”

James’ wife Cheryl had not heard the full conversation and, when he explained, she then took it up with the lady in the shop – but she refused to change her mind and the couple left.

James later made contact with the business to make his point again and to ask for an apology.

In its response the business said: “We are assessing the coronavirus numbers on a daily basis, and with numbers being at a very high level yesterday, we are sadly having to refuse entry to anyone who cannot or will not wear a mask.

“It is still a legal requirement in Wales to wear a mask and I am legally allowed to refuse entry, whether you are exempt or not.”