A few months ago, when wearing a mask shockingly became a political symbol for some (watch the YouTube video embedded below), I said in an interview that I wouldn’t be surprised if refusing to wear a face mask on a plane becomes the next emotional-support-pet scam. I’m not sure how wearing a mask takes away your freedom when in reality it does the opposite. Just look what happened yesterday in Europe when the EU officially banned U.S. travelers from entering without a two-week quarantine. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and a dozen other countries made the cut, but we didn’t, and that’s because we’ve completely bungled our handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The resistance to masks is part of that, and sure enough, fake coronavirus mask exception cards are now a thing. They say in part, “I am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public. Wearing a face mask posses [sp] a mental and or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) I’m not required to disclose my condition to you.”
Fortunately, people are catching on. According to ABC News, “The warning which first came from the United States Attorney’s office in the Middle District of North Carolina pointed to the spelling and other errors in the card. The U.S. Attorney’s office says that the postings, cards or flyers were not issued and are not endorsed by DOJ.”
Via ABC News, U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin advised that people “do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle. These cards do not carry the force of law. The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency,’ or ‘FTBA,’ is not a government agency.”
So if you come across someone busting out one of these coronavirus mask exception cards or flyers, know that they’re fake. Part of what’s so unfortunate about this development is that there are people who legitimately can’t wear a face mask, just as there are legitimate travelers that need to fly with an emotional support pet (so note that not every face mask exception card is necessarily fake; instead, know that this one is and that there are other fakes out there). Those that are faking it are putting those who are legit—and everyone else—at risk.
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