Use of Face Coverings

Use of Face Coverings

Questions have been asked about the use of facial coverings and we address that here.

Physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene are the most important and effective measures we can all adopt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Therefore the wearing of facial coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

The evidence on the use of face coverings is limited, but there may be some benefit in wearing a facial covering when you leave the house and enter enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet. Examples include travelling on public transport or entering a food shop where it is not always possible to maintain a 2-meter distance from another customer. There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation, where there may be some benefit.

As some people can have the virus but experience no symptoms (asymptomatic infection), wearing a face-covering in the situations outlined above may provide some level of protection against transmission to other people nearby.

However, it remains the case that anyone with symptoms and all members of their household (whether they have symptoms or not), must self-isolate and adhere to the guidance onindividual and household isolation on NHS Inform.

By face coverings the Scottish Government does not mean the wearing of surgical or other medical-grade masks but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example, a scarf.

When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you must wash the face-covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of safely. Face coverings should not be used for children under the age of two years.

The Scottish Government is recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure. Given that the evidence of impact on transmission is relatively weak, the public use of facial coverings is not being made mandatory and will not be enforced at this stage.

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