A woman who has had asthma since birth has spoken of her anger after being asked to leave a store to remove her face mask.
Andrea Beanson, of Stockton, was summoned from Clearance Bargains in Darlington for removing her mask after struggling to breathe while wearing it in the store.
Although the mother of two wore a hidden disability lanyard to show that she was exempt from wearing a face covering, she was asked to leave the store even after showing her exemption card. reports TeessideLive.
Face covering became mandatory in retail and hospitality industries on July 24th.
However, the government says that those with a “reasonable excuse” can be exempted from carrying.
However, 37-year-old Teesside Live, who initially tried to wear a mask, removed it when she was having difficulty breathing.
“This is discrimination against disabled and hidden disabilities,” she said.
“I have asthma and I had cancer and a stem cell transplant, but I shouldn’t have revealed that because I had a blue badge and a lanyard.”
The divorced mother of two, who lives in Hardwick, Stockton, went to the store with a friend on Wednesday, October 7th.
When asked to put on a mask, Andrea agreed to try and her friend gave her a mask to wear.
But she says when she was walking through the store she started struggling with her breathing and had to remove it.
“I tried, I got on the couches and couldn’t breathe when I got to the TVs so I removed it,” she said.
“I was asked to put it back on and I said, ‘I can’t breathe with it,’ and they said, ‘Well, you’ll have to go’.”
Andrea said she stepped back from the entrance and spoke to a member of staff outside, but was told again that she could not enter.
A week later, Andrea visited the Clearance Bargains store in Stanley, County Durham and said she had no problem whatsoever.
A spokesperson told Teesside Live that they would contact Andrea to apologize because her experience in Darlington “does not reflect the guidelines we have in our stores”.
Face covering was already mandatory in shops, supermarkets, takeaways and cinemas on July 24th.
It brought them in line with public transport, where masks have been mandatory since June 15.
Wearing masks can be especially difficult for people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or lung cancer.
The government has said that people with “reasonable excuses” do not need to carry them to shops or public transport.
Andrea has suffered from asthma since she was born.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with high-grade fourth stage lymphoma. She had chemotherapy, but it returned six months later.
Three years later she underwent another chemotherapy and stem cell transplant at Freemans Hospital in Newcastle.
She is registered as disabled and her daughter is her carer.
In March of that year, Andrea was among those called for protection and she was banned until August 1st.
“Since I’m at high risk, I’ve only been going out since August,” she said.
“I didn’t scold her, but I was so mad.”
A store spokesperson said: “We are reaching out to Andrea to apologize for her experience as this does not reflect the guidelines we have put in place in our stores
“We continue to remind our customers to wear face covering when they are able to.”