SAINSBURY’S has been forced to remove a sign at one of their petrol stations which asked medically exempt non-mask wearers to pay for their goods separately outside.
The retailer was accused of “flat out discrimination” over the sign at a garage in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire by an autistic teenager who felt “dehumanised” by the sign.
Paige Donoghue, who has a medical exemption for mask wearing, says the “disgraceful” notice forced her and other disabled customers to wait out in the cold by denying them entry into the kiosk.
It first was spotted by Paige’s parents on Friday who sent her a photo of the request, which reads: “If you are exempt from wearing a face mask or have forgotten one, please can you go to the night window to be served.”
The furious 19-year-old took to Sainsbury’s Facebook shortly after to complain and said: “This is absolutely disgusting. Being constantly stopped to show proof is one thing but this is a whole other level.
“So what you are saying is that I am not allowed in your garage because I have a disability and really struggle to wear a mask?
“Unfortunately for me I was born with it, I can’t just take it away! That is flat out discrimination.
“Because of my disability I have to stand outside in the cold to pay for petrol and cannot purchase anything from the shop.
“I have to do something different than everyone else which not only adds to my anxiety but makes me feel as though I am not welcome anywhere or to be treated like a human being. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Speaking today, the University of Anglia Ruskin student added: “Lately with Covid, life has already been quite hard for someone with a disability.
“I have faced a lot of negativity whilst going into shops without a face mask, even if I am wearing my sunflower lanyard, so my parents knew how that sign would affect people like me.
“The sign was upsetting because it made me feel singled out.
“I understand that other people, I don’t want to say have it ‘worse’ than me, but they do.
“I was mostly making a post generalising all disabilities and trying to stick up for those who can’t for themselves.”
Following Paige’s complaint, Sainsburys said it has removed the sign.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We would like to reassure Paige that customers exempt from wearing a face covering do not need to use the pay window at our Letchworth Petrol Filling Station.
“This sign does not reflect our policy and has been removed.”