With face coverings compulsory in many settings, people unable to comply for health reasons are being challenged and abused

In the past few weeks, Paul Feeley has been abused four times for not wearing a mask on public transport. “I have a disability lanyard, which signifies I have a hidden disability. I tried to show it … And all I got back was a complete torrent of abuse.”

The most recent incident took place just after he first spoke to the Observer on Thursday. The abuse has made Feeley, who suffers from fibromyalgia, borderline personality disorder and panic attacks, feel “extraordinarily angry, anxious and upset”. He is unable to wear a face covering due to his medical conditions, and legally he is exempt – but he is now worried about travelling on buses and trams in his home town of Manchester. “One man said to me, ‘If you can’t wear a mask, you shouldn’t be allowed out.’”

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