If someone has shown you their “face mask exempt” card recently, claiming the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has cleared them from wearing protective face coverings, you may want to take another glance at it. This week, the DOJ announced that it has not issued, nor endorsed any such identification.
Many images of “face mask exempt” cards circulated online include the statement: “Wearing a face mask posses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”
Many images also include the DOJ reporting number, the DOJ’s seal and the warning: “If found in violating of the ADA you could face steep penalties.”
“The Department of Justice has been made aware of postings or flyers on the internet regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which include the Department of Justice’s seal,” The DOJ said in a statement. “These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department.”
“The Department urges the public not to rely on the information contained in these postings and to visit ADA.gov for ADA information issued by the Department,” the statement continued.
Several of the cards appear to have been created by a group called the Freedom to Breathe Agency (FTBA), a Facebook group that aims to resist government orders that promote or dictate the wearing of protective face coverings.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people, regardless of if they’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, wear protective masks in public settings, especially in areas where there’s significant community transmission, to limit the spread of the virus. In Osceola County, it is still mandatory to wear a face covering while in the public.