HOUSTON – If you’ve been seeing posters and flyers circulating on the internet saying that people can be exempt from wearing face coverings in public, the U.S. Department of Justice – and KPRC 2 -- want you to know they’re fake.
The DOJ issued a warning about these pandemic postings this week:
“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. The Department urges the public not to rely on the information contained in these postings and to visit ADA.gov for ADA information issued by the Department.”
Here are some examples of the postings, as seen on social media.
The phony card entitled “FACE MASK EXEMPT CARD” in this post reads, “I AM EXEMPT FROM ANY ORDINANCE REQUIRING FACE MASK USAGE IN PUBLIC. Wearing a face mask poses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you. … Organizations and businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for your first violation and $150,000 for any subsequent violations. Denying access to your business/organization will be also reported to FTBA for further actions.”
The card looks as if it is issued by a (fake) organization called the FTBA, which refers to the “Freedom to Breathe Agency.” The website listed on the flyer – ftbagency.com -- appears to go to a domain page that does not exist.
As of this writing, Facebook has put a shaded filter over the image saying the post contains “False Information” and is “Checked by independent fact-checkers.”
Former NSYNC singer Lance Bass has gotten in on the debunking of this card, tweeting out a photo of a laminated printed version of the card with this message: “HEADS UP fellow businesses.... This is not a thing. This is what happens when Arts and Crafts Karens have too much time on their hands. We will throw it in the trash and send them on their way.”
HEADS UP fellow businesses.... This is not a thing. This is what happens when Arts and Crafts Karens have too much time on their hands. We will throw it in the trash and send them on their way. pic.twitter.com/VKACSA3pRU— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) June 24, 2020
In addition to guidance about the fake cards, DOJ said it has more information and technical assistance about the ADA. If you have questions, call ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY).
After looking into official statements and examining the post’s statements and references, KPRC 2 has learned these cards’ claims are not true.