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Public Health

Can I get a face mask exemption card so I don’t need to wear a mask?

No, a face mask exemption card is not issued from any government entity and does not provide a blanket exemption for wearing masks.

Masks should not be worn by:

  • children younger than 2 years old
  • persons who have trouble breathing
  • persons who are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance

Obtaining a face mask exemption card to avoid wearing a mask is generally not a recognized or supported practice by major health organizations. Here’s what you need to know about face mask exemptions and the validity of exemption cards:

Understanding Face Mask Exemption Cards

  1. Legitimacy and Misuse
    • Legitimacy: Official health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) do not issue or endorse face mask exemption cards.
    • Misuse: There have been instances where fraudulent face mask exemption cards have been circulated, falsely claiming legal protection against mask mandates. Such cards are not recognized by legitimate authorities and can lead to misunderstandings and potential legal issues.

Medical Exemptions

  1. Eligibility for Exemption
    • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions may make mask-wearing difficult, such as severe respiratory conditions, mental health issues, or disabilities. However, these cases are rare and require proper medical documentation.
    • Consultation with Healthcare Provider: If you believe you have a legitimate medical reason to be exempt from wearing a mask, consult with a healthcare provider. They can provide documentation or suggest alternatives to masks, like face shields, if appropriate.
  1. Public Health Guidelines
    • CDC Recommendations: The CDC recommends mask-wearing in public settings, especially where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. They acknowledge that some individuals may be exempt for medical reasons but stress the importance of mask-wearing for public health.
  2. Fraudulent Exemption Cards
    • Legal Risks: Using or presenting a fraudulent mask exemption card can lead to legal repercussions, including fines or other penalties, depending on local regulations.

Alternative Solutions

  1. Face Shields: For individuals who cannot wear masks due to medical reasons, face shields might be an acceptable alternative. They provide some level of protection and are often easier to wear for those with certain conditions.
  2. Remote Options: When possible, utilize remote or contactless services to minimize the need for mask-wearing in public spaces.

Resources for More Information


Face mask exemption cards are not officially recognized or endorsed by major health organizations, and using fraudulent ones can lead to legal issues. If you have a legitimate medical reason to avoid wearing a mask, consult with a healthcare provider for appropriate documentation and alternative protective measures.

For some people with sensory, cognitive, or behavioral issues, it may be difficult to wear a mask. There may be special accommodations for such persons so that they can get their essential needs met through curbside pickup or contactless delivery.

For more information regarding who should and shouldn’t wear masks, go to: CDC

More resources:

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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