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Scotland relaxes routine face mask rule

The Scottish Government has relaxed its recommendation that face masks are worn at all time.

Key changes to its guidance are:

  • staff providing direct care do not need to routinely wear a face mask at all times during their shift
  • staff in non-direct care roles (e.g. catering, domestic or office staff) do not need to routinely wear a face covering in communal areas
  • visitors to adult care homes do not need to wear a mask or face covering including in communal areas
  • staff and visitors may choose to wear a mask, and this should be supported
  • while receiving care and support, individuals (or their representatives where relevant) may wish a member of staff to wear a mask. If so, this should be supported by staff and be recorded in care or support plans

Explaining the change in guidance, Scottish officials say that although COVID-19 continues to spread, transmission rates are lower and the virus is currently milder than at earlier stages in the pandemic resulting in a reduction in severity of illness and hospitalisation.

The impact masks and face coverings can have on health and mental wellbeing, along with communication barriers, continues to be weighed against the protection provided against the risk of harm from COVID-19. The rights and choices of those within the social care sector, along with the understanding that many social care settings represent an individual’s home, have all been considered in reviewing the guidance on mask use. 

Balancing all of these factors, it is now the right time to move from routine face mask and face covering use, to a person-centred risk-based approach.

All staff within the health and care settings should continue to apply Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs) at all times for all supported individuals. Additionally, transmission-based precautions (TBPs) (i.e. enhanced precautions) should continue to be applied when caring for individuals who have suspected or known infection or colonisation.

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