Scotland withdraws guidance on the extended use of face coverings

  • Date: 16 May 2023

SCOTTISH Government has announced the withdrawal of guidance on the extended use of face coverings in health and social care settings.

A ‘Dear Colleagues’ letter (pdf) has been sent from the chief nursing officer and chief medical officer informing stakeholders of the change following review.

The letter states: “The outcome of this review recognises that Scotland continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and has entered a calmer phase of the pandemic. Now is the right time to withdraw the extended face mask and face covering measures across healthcare as well as social care settings.

“This is due to the high uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations especially amongst the Scottish population, reduced severity of illness and hospitalisations, and availability of treatments for COVID-19.”

The announcement refers specifically to the withdrawal of the guidance documents:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): extended use of face masks and face coverings in hospitals, primary care and community healthcare settings
  • Coronavirus (COVID- 19): extended use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes.

This withdrawal is in effect from 16 May 2023 and health and social care professionals are now advised to follow guidance detailed in the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM) and the Care Home National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (CHIPCM). Further advice can be sought from local health protection and/or infection prevention control teams.

The letter further states: “If staff have concerns around the withdrawal of the extended guidance, then they should speak with their employer. Individual occupational health assessments and risk assessments should take place as appropriate.”

Dental advice

A separate letter (pdf) has also been sent by the chief dental officer announcing the withdrawal of the two guidance documents. It provides some further details for dental professionals, stating that fluid resistant Type IIR Masks can now be removed apart from when examining and treating patients as per NIPCM guidelines (Standard Infection Control Precautions section 1.4).

The letter also states that aerosol generating procedure guidance (Appendix 17 AGPs and Fallow Time) remains, and an FFP3 mask should be worn with appropriate PPE should a patient have evidence of an infectious agent transmitted wholly or partly by the droplet or airborne route, and treatment cannot be delayed.

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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