A woman has copped a fine for not wearing a mask while shopping, despite claiming she has a medical exemption.
Footage of the argument between the woman and police, which reportedly occurred in a Farmfoods supermarket in England’s West Midlands area, was uploaded to social media.
The woman, referred to as Nicole by the police officers, was stopped at the store while doing her shopping and told she had broken a COVID-19 “guideline” relating to mask wearing.
At the start of the clip the female police officer explains Nicole will have to prove to a court that she had an exemption in order to get out of paying the fine.
“You don’t have to prove to us. If we give you a fixed penalty notice… you take it to court and you show your burden of proof then to the court,” the female officer said.
“We are police officers. We don’t have to ask for proof of your exemption. In a conversation we can ask what it is.”
Nicole then argues that she showed the officers her exemption card and explained the reason she couldn’t wear a mask.
“You’ve shown me a card that you’ve printed on the internet. That’s not valid. Because you haven’t got a certificate or a doctors note the onus is on yourself,” the male officer said.
Nicole then claims her son’s girlfriend had ordered her a valid exemption card but it hadn’t arrived in the mail yet.
“I only texted the other day saying ‘has my card come yet?’. I can prove to you here that she’s put ‘yes, it does take a few weeks, I think my mum’s took a few weeks as well’,” Nicole said, showing the officers her phone as “proof”.
The man filming the interaction then chimes in, asking whether a law had been broken, to which the male officer responds, “She’s broken a guideline”.
“Guidelines is not a law. Guidelines is guidelines, it means you can work with these lines. That’s not law,” the man filming says.
Nicole then asks if she has to go to court, to which the female officer explains she will have to if she doesn’t want to pay the fine.
“Listen. If you get that exemption certificate that you can prove that you have a medical condition, that you don’t have to wear a mask, then you won’t need to be going to court,” the male officer adds.
“The onus is on yourself to prove that you have a medical condition.”
Nicole then says she is “doing the best” she can.
“I don’t get this. I’ve just said to you I will go to the doctors and I will get a proper one… You want me to stand here giving you my details. I’ve got to go and get my shopping again, which I was just happily doing, I was keeping my distance from people,” she says.
The male officer explains she can’t enter a shop without a mask unless she has proof.
Nicole then produces the same “exemption card” she printed off the internet, with the officers explaining once more that it isn’t a valid form of proof.
Finally the woman agrees to give the officers her details so she can continue on with her shopping.
The video was posted to Facebook by Joanne Sears, with the caption, “So, this is how they are going to play it now”.
“Using fear to issue fines to non-mask wearers and then saying it’s down to you to dispute it & show an exemption if you have one!” she wrote.
“Remember people, you don’t have to show any exemption OR give any of your details. You have not broken a law.
“I hope you’re okay Natalie.”
The post was quickly flooded with comments from outraged social media users.
“Absolutely disgusting…..total idiots employed by the Police who clearly have NO idea of what they’re on about, incompetent muppets,” one person wrote.
Another person claimed the police were just “making the rules as they go along”.
One person wrote: “This is effectively discrimination. Maybe they missed a briefing. Pretty sure they could be looked into independently for this.”
“Are the police so stupid they do not know the difference between guidelines and law?”