No, those “Face Mask Exempt” cards aren’t real

Illustration for article titled No, those “Face Mask Exempt” cards aren’t real
Photo: DuKai photographer (Getty Images)

As everyone is painfully aware, wearing a face mask (which incontrovertibly helps to prevent the transmission of COVID-19) has somehow become a political statement, and many people, for a variety of reasons, are refusing to wear them in public. Now, with more and more states requiring people wear them while out in public, businesses are reporting they’re being presented with “Face Mask Exempt” cards.

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This is, of course, not a real thing. As reported by Restaurant Business, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an alert this past Monday that the cards being sold online and via social media are very much fake, have not been officially distributed, and don’t actually exempt you from existing rules and regulations.

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It’s at least somewhat understandable that businesses might be confused by these cards, though. The cards reportedly carry the name and logo of the Department of Justice (or sometimes some other agency) and reference the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is an important piece of very real legislature. This is confusing enough that the FTC’s alert even lists contact information for people with questions about what the ADA actually does (you can call them at 800-514-0301 (voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY)).

It’s unclear just how widespread the cards are, but if you see these for sale, or perhaps are presented with one in real life, just be aware that it’s a scam and will not get you (or anyone else) out of wearing a mask.

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)

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Scott Scarsdale