To our amazing supermarkets and local corner shops across the UK

An open letter from Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation

First, we would just like to say thank you. We really appreciate how you look after our NHS and critical care workers by providing them their hour to shop. We love how you prioritise the vulnerable and shielding groups with home deliveries. We also appreciate everything that you do to maintain social distancing in your stores and keeping our kitchens full of food.  

We are wondering if you could do one more amazing thing for people with lung conditions. Recently across the UK, the advice has either changed or updated around the use of face-coverings. Currently, the advice to use coverings focuses on the use of public transport. Soon we foresee that we all might either be asked to or feel like we should, wear a face-covering in public all the time, especially in your shops. 

Now the advice out there is not the clearest. We are worried that people may not be aware that for those with a lung condition, like asthma and COPD or for those who have recovered from COVID-19 that wearing a face-covering might be hard.  

We recently asked our supporters with lung conditions as to whether a face-covering increases their difficulty to breathe. Over half came back with either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’.  In some parts of the UK, the advice highlights that for those with a lung condition wearing a face-covering will aggravate their lung condition and so they are exempt.  

We are wondering whether you could share this information around, to your fantastic staff and customers. We don’t want people with respiratory disease to become stigmatised, socially isolated and ultimately placed in harm’s way as general fears over the virus continue to grow. 

I am sure that you agree with us that people shouldn’t be forced to feel that they have to wear a face-covering when it causes them problems to breathe.  Will you support us by spreading this word and help millions with a lung condition?  

Thank you again for everything that you do, we really do appreciate it.  

Best wishes, 

Kay Boycott
Chief Executive
Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation