Preston mum and children 'refused' Covid-19 tests due to mask exemption

A mum from Preston has spoken out about her difficult experience at a city test centre on August 25, claiming testing volunteers 'intimidated' her and asked why she was exempt from wearing a mask.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 10:01 am

Kirsty Brogan, from Preston, had walked more than her mile with her three young children to the Berkeley Street walk-through test centre on Wednesday for a Covid-19 test.

A member of her family had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week and she had reported feeling weak with flu-like symptoms, so had decided to take her family for a test despite four negative lateral flow results.

But when she arrived for her 2 pm appointment, she claims that staff told her she had to wear her mask, despite having an exemption card.

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Kirsty, who is exempt and her daughter Winnie, 5

The mum-of-three, who fears she would have a panic attack if made to wear a mask, said she was 'intimidated' after staff questioned her reasons for not wearing a covering.

She claims she was then removed from the tent by the staff and told she could not take a test, despite not knowing that masks were mandatory at test centres.

She said: "I personally don't think it's fair. I've been in hospital when I had a miscarriage without a mask, my little boy had bronchiolitis and had a two night stay in hospital and I still didn't have to wear a mask.

"I absolutely lost my head. My appointment was booked for 2 pm and when I arrived, they put a mask on my daughter. I wasn't happy about it, but she didn't mind.

The family visited the Berkeley Street test centre on August 25

"I was then told that we all had to sanitise our hands, which was no problem.

"Then another two guys come from nowhere and tell me to put a mask on. I showed them my exemption card but they told me it didn't apply to the building. For one, it's a tent and secondly, I think my exemption should apply anywhere.

"I told them I had a card for a reason but they started asking why. I told them I wasn't prepared to answer that question. By this time I was struggling to breathe as I felt really intimidated, which never happens to me because I'm quite a strong person.

"At this point, I had staff stood around me and my small children because I refused to put a mask on. They then escorted me out of the door saying I wasn't going to be able to be tested as I wasn't cooperating with them.

Kirsty also took her little boy Andrew, aged 2 to the test centre

"I have never been so intimidated in my life. Imagine that being a very nervous person, an elderly lady or someone with disabilities. It is so frustrating."

Kirsty says she has been left feeling frustrated due to unclear guidance that those exempt from wearing masks cannot be tested at walk-in sites.

And she added that she was told by the booking phone operator that wearing a mask was not mandatory and that she has recently had overnight stays in the hospital without being forced to wear one.

She said: "When I booked my appointment over the phone I was told I wouldn't have to wear one. The exemption card is there for a reason for people like me who have struggles.

The Berkeley Street site was set up last October

"I do understand that it is a test centre but I was being intimidated to wear one. That shouldn't be happening. If I had known all of this I would have just got one through the post. It's all just so confusing at the minute."

Preston City Council currently runs free, asymptomatic Covid-19 testing for everyone at a number of mobile sites across the city including Ashton Park, Brookfield Square, Mill Lane Park, Mill Lane and Waverley Park.

The Post contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for a response, and a spokesperson said: “We know this will have been a frustrating situation for the family.

“To protect everyone attending a test site, including NHS Test and Trace staff, face coverings must be worn at local walk-through testing sites by anyone aged three and over.

“If a face covering cannot be worn, drive through testing and home testing kits are available as alternatives.”

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