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Scotland No Longer Advises Use of Facemasks in Health and Social Care Settings

The Scottish Government has removed guidance on the wearing of facemasks in health and social care settings.

The Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care and the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport have agreed to withdraw the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): extended use of face masks and face coverings in hospitals, primary care and community healthcare settings’ guidance and the ‘Coronavirus (COVID19): extended use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes’ guidance.

In a statement the Scottish government says that
“The outcome of the review recognises that Scotland continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and has entered a calmer phase of the pandemic. Now the right time to withdraw the extended face mask and face covering measures across health and social care settings.”

“This is due to the high uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations, especially amongst residents of care homes, reduced severity of illness and hospitalisations, and availability of treatments for COVID-19. This follows advice from Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland and Scottish Government Professional Clinical Advisors in Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC).”

This guidance was withdrawn on 16 May 2023.In the absence of the extended use of face mask/face covering guidance; health and social care services are advised to follow the infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance on the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for standard infection control precautions and transmission based precautions as detailed in the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM) and the Care Home National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (CHIPCM). For further advice please engage with local health protection and IPC teams.

In practice, for social care settings, this will mean that the element of choice to wear a mask out with when it is recommended in the NIPCM/CH NIPCM will no longer apply. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including face mask use should be based on clinical need and risk assessment as per the NIPCM and CHIPCM.