A man in his late 60s traveling on a tram in northwest England was punched in the face after taking off his mask to talk to his mother, who is hard of hearing.
Police today released CCTV images of the suspected attacker.
Lancashire police say that the incident occurred on the evening of Sept. 4 as the tram passed near the South Pier in Blackpool.
An elderly man had removed his facemask to talk to his mother, who is in her 90s, when “a man came up behind him, demanded that he put his mask back on then punched him in the face,” according to police.
The man “was left with bruising around the eye,” police said.
PC Laura Alves of Blackpool Police described it as “a shocking attack on a man who was simply trying to speak to his mother who is hard of hearing.”
“We urgently need to speak to the man in the CCTV still and I would ask that anyone who recognises him to contact police,” she said. “Similarly, I would appeal to the man directly to contact us if you see this appeal.”
The attacker is described as being in his 30s, around 5 feet 6 inches tall, of large build, wearing all black with a grey face mask.
He had a shaved head with dark hair and was wearing glasses.
No arrests have been made, according to police.
According to government guidelines, people are not required to wear a mask while communicating with someone “who relies on lip reading, clear sound, or facial expressions to communicate”.
There have been other violent attacks on people not wearing masks, as well as by those challenged over their refusal to wear them.
In September, London police reported an attack on an NHS worker on a London night bus, which they believed was triggered by him moving away from the attacker, who wasn’t wearing a mask.
In another incident in August, a man was knocked unconscious by a man who thought he was being criticized for not wearing a mask.
Regulations brought in to tackle the CCP virus mandate that face coverings or masks be worn on public transport and in transport hubs, as well as other indoor settings.
“You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face,” according to the official guidance.
These more makeshift coverings are acceptable because the purpose is not to protect the wearer in the way that surgical masks do.
“Face coverings are instead largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection,” the guidance states. The coverings are used “because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of virus that causes coronavirus infection (COVID-19).”
There are numerous exemptions to the rules on wearing face coverings, including for children under the age of 11, and police officers and other emergency workers.