This is why you might see supermarket shoppers wearing a sunflower badge

By Sarah Wilson
Friday, 7th August 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 3:58 pm
The lanyards are designed to help those with hidden conditions. (Photo: Shutterstock)
The lanyards are designed to help those with hidden conditions. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Sunflower lanyards are being handed out for free at UK supermarkets like Sainsbury's in order to alert people to hidden disabilities.

Though shoppers are now required to wear a face mask when picking up their groceries, some people are not able to wear masks due to health conditions.

Some of those exempt from the rule have been met with concern and even anger from fellow shoppers who might believe they're deliberately flouting the rules.

As a result, M&S, Sainsbury's and Tesco have begun to hand out free sunflower lanyards to those exempt from the mask rule in order to alert shoppers to their extenuating circumstances.

Those who think they might need one, do not need to provide any proof of disability or exemption.

Charity Hidden Disabilities explains the lanyards on its website:

"Businesses who are members of the scheme are aware of our card and provide support, help, assistance or simply a little more time to those wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

"However, please note that shops and public transport can still refuse you entry if you are not wearing a face covering."

Some of the exemptions for wearing a face mask include:

  • Having a diagnosed disorder such as autism or anxiety, and as such might experience distress while wearing a face mask
  • Suffering from a disability which makes you unable to put a mask on
  • Being aged 11 or under in England or under 5 in Scotland
  • Needing to eat, drink or take medication
  • Travelling with someone who needs to read facial expressions or lip-read

Alternatively, customers can pick up a sunflower badge online for 55p, or obtain a free exemption certificate from the government, also obtained online.

The government says that you don't have to wear a covering if you have any "any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability", and would experience "severe distress" from being obliged to wear one.