No, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not exempt you from mask mandates

An Instagram post showing a card claiming to exempt the holder from mask requirements has the Department of Justice’s seal — but it’s Not Legit.

June 26, 2020
Category: Fact-Checking

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Quarantine affects everyone in different ways. For me, it meant spending two-and-a-half hours watching a county commission meeting about a new rule requiring everyone to wear masks in businesses.

Live YouTube comments on a government meeting are like posts on news stories on steroids — and anything mask-related seems to spark a particular vitriol. I saw comments about Bill Gates and George Soros using COVID-19 to microchip people, 5G cell tower conspiracy theories, links to the debunked ‘Plandemic’ video and claims about the legality of requiring masks.

MediaWise found a recent Instagram post that showed a laminated card claiming to exempt the holder from any mask requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Wearing a face possess (sic) a mental and/or physical risk to me… If found in violation of the ADA you could face steep penalties.” The card has the Department of Justice’s seal and the logo of an organization called the Freedom to Breathe Agency.

The Freedom to Breathe Agency doesn’t exist and neither does the website listed for it on the post of the card. And the ADA put out the following statement about posts like this:

“The Department of Justice has been made aware of postings or flyers on the internet regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which include the Department of Justice’s seal.

“These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department.”

This Instagram post is Not Legit. As counties across the U.S. move to require masks as COVID-19 numbers climb, prepare for a wave of misinformation, and always check with your local health officials for the most up-to-date information.

Click here to watch the fact-check.

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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