A Chicago family says their 3-year-old son was denied entry to the Museum of Science and Industry because he was not wearing a mask, and now the family is asking officials in Illinois to remind the public that medical exemptions exist for the requirement to wear face coverings in indoor spaces.
Father Brian Smith says he wanted to bring his son Ralli to the museum on Saturday to see a huge model train display at the facility.
“We love train books, and Santa might bring us some fun stuff like that,” Brian said.
When they arrived at the museum, Brian says they were refused entry because his son was not wearing a face mask.
“They say ‘I’m sorry.’ They say ‘you can’t come in,’” he said.
Rallis was born with a genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis complex. The boy’s father says the rare condition makes his son unwilling to wear or keep a mask in any situation, and he says that although he explained his son’s condition to museum staff, the entry has always been refused.
“I was super angry,” he said. “The implication is that my son is a threat to customers, and that’s not true.”
Under the provisions of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s executive order requiring all people ages 2 and older to wear masks indoors, people with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing safe masks cannot be forced to do so.
The Americans With Disabilities Act states that if a person with a disability is unable to wear a mask, businesses and other entities should consider reasonable modifications to their mask policy.
In a statement, the museum said it was able to accommodate these types of accommodations, but arrangements needed to be made in advance.
“We apologize for the Smith’s experience,” officials said. “We can make special accommodations for customers who cannot wear a mask, but cannot make same-day arrangements. We ask visitors to contact us one week before their visit.
Now Brian says he hopes his story leads to more discussion about how to properly handle medical conditions that prevent individuals from wearing masks safely, and he urges the governor to make those exemptions clear to the public. .
“It’s up to the governor to step in to enforce his guidelines,” he said. “It must be done immediately.”