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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Seòmar agus comataidhean

Question reference: S6W-18103

  • Date lodged: 19 May 2023
  • Current status: Answered by Michael Matheson on 31 May 2023


To ask the Scottish Government whether any research or risk assessment informed its recent decision to withdraw the extended face mask and face covering measures across health and social care settings.


The Scottish Government has a robust process in place for creating, updating and removing COVID-19 guidance.

In April 2023, the Scottish Government commissioned Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland to review the current evidence and provide an update on the epidemiology of COVID-19 in Scotland. This information supported Scottish Government to evaluate whether it was proportionate to maintain the face mask/ face covering guidance, to make changes to the guidance or to withdraw the guidance at this time. ARHAI’s review recognised that Scotland continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and recommended that the Scottish Government withdraw the extended face mask and face covering measures across health and social care settings.

This recommendation was supported by Scottish Government Professional Clinical Advisors in Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC).

The Scottish Government also has a Professional Advisory Group of experts from across the health and social care sectors who were asked to give their expert opinion on the recommendation to withdraw the guidance and were supportive of this change.


The Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Medical Officer, National Clinical Director and other Health and Social Care Directors were content with the advice based on the ARHAI Scotland review, the expert opinion of IPC and health and social care advisors, and consideration of the current pandemic context.

ARHAI Scotland, the Professional Advisory Group for health and social care, and clinical directors are all in agreement that it is appropriate to withdraw the extended use of face mask and face covering guidance. This withdrawal means reverting to pre-pandemic infection prevention and control guidance, which is current and long-standing, and outlines the appropriate personal protective equipment to wear in the instance of any respiratory infection.