A woman who has suffered with asthma since birth has spoken of her anger after being told to leave a store for taking her face mask off.
Andrea Beanson, of Stockton, was ordered out of Clearance Bargains in Darlington for removing her mask after she struggled to breathe while wearing it in the shop.
Despite wearing a Hidden Disability lanyard to show she was exempt from wearing a face covering, the mother-of-two was still asked to vacate the store even after showing her exemption card, reports TeessideLive.
Face coverings were made compulsory in retail and hospitality venues on July 24.
However the government says those with a ‘reasonable excuse’ can be made exempt from wearing them.
The 37-year-old Teesside Live she had initially tried to wear a mask but removed it when she struggled to breathe.
“This is discrimination against disabled and hidden disabilities,” she said.
“I have asthma and I’ve had cancer and a stem cell transplant but I should not have had to disclose that as I had a blue badge and lanyard with me.”
The divorced mum-of-two, who lives in Hardwick in Stockton, had travelled to the store on Wednesday, October 7, with a friend.
When she was asked to put on a mask, Andrea agreed to try and her friend gave her a mask to wear.
But she says, as she walked around the store, she began to struggle with her breathing and had to remove it.
“I did try, I walked up the sofas and couldn’t breathe by time I got to the TVs so I removed it,” she said.
“I was asked to put it back on and I said, ‘I can’t breathe with it on,’ and they said, ‘Well you will have leave’.”
Andrea said she walked back out of entrance and spoke to a member of staff outside but was told again she could not enter.
A week later, Andrea visited the Clearance Bargains store in Stanley, County Durham, and said she experienced no problems whatsoever.
A spokesman told Teesside Live said they were contacting Andrea to apologise as her experience at Darlington “does not reflect the policy we have in place at our stores”.
Face coverings were made compulsory in shops, supermarkets, takeaways and cinemas back on July 24.
It brought them in line with public transport, where masks have been mandatory since June 15.
For people who suffer from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer, wearing masks can be particularly difficult.
The Government has said people with the “reasonable excuse” do not need to wear them in shops or on public transport.
Andrea has suffered with asthma since birth.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with stage four high grade lymphoma. She had chemotherapy but it returned six months later.
Three years later she underwent chemotherapy again and a stem cell transplant at the Freemans Hospital in Newcastle.
She is registered disabled and her daughter is her carer.
In March this year, Andrea was among those told to shield and she went into lockdown until August 1.
“With me being high risk, I have only been going out since August,” she said.
“I didn’t swear at them but I was so angry.”
A spokesperson for the store said: “We are contacting Andrea to apologise for her experience as it does not reflect the policy we have in place at our stores
“We continue to remind customers to wear face coverings if they are able to.”