Over the course of the last year, wearing a face covering has become almost second nature in Scotland.

Since June, we have been wearing them constantly – in shops, on public transport and in places where social distancing is not possible.

And every day at her daily briefings, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would remind us to follow the FACTS guidance – which of course includes the wearing of face coverings.

However, there is one key issue that some people are still falling foul on – with the Scottish Government taking steps to post on social media to provide some key tips.

The issue? The discarding of disposable face coverings.

Sharing a graphic of ‘bin disposable masks responsibly’, the Scottish Government linked to their advice.


It states: “If your face covering is not reusable, you should dispose of it in the general waste bin.

“Disposable face coverings cannot yet be recycled.”

The firm warning added: “Do not litter.

“Littering is a criminal offence and you can receive a fixed penalty of up to £80. 

“Please respect our communities, wildlife and countryside by putting disposable face coverings in the litter bin, or take them home to dispose of them safely.”

The post struck a chord with many social media users, who hit out at the reckless disposal of masks on the street.

One wrote: “Perhaps you should introduce huge fines for these animals that just dump their masks on the floor, in shopping trolleys etc.

“Absolutely disgusting behaviour and causing damage to wildlife and the environment – not to mention the risk it poses to shop workers that pick them up.”

Another added: “Absolutely spot on. It’s disgusting to see so many just discarded all over the place.”

And a third said: “It’s a disgrace the amount of these lying about in the streets.

“If people can’t even use a bin, it’s no wonder we’re in this mess.”

Wearing a face covering

Unless you are exempt, it is mandatory to wear face coverings in the following settings in Scotland: 

  • health and social care settings, including staff, patients and visitors
  • public transport
  • workplaces (other than early learning or school settings)
  • any premises open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, pharmacies, estate agents, beauty parlours and shopping malls. 
  • hospitality premises such as bars, pubs and cafes and restaurants, and canteens (including workplace canteens)
  • banks, building societies, credit unions and post offices
  • courts and tribunal buildings
  • places of worship
  • visitor attractions, indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites such as museums and galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms,
  • entertainment venues such as cinemas, indoor theatres, comedy clubs, concert halls, soft play centres, bingo halls, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, snooker and pool halls, and other leisure facilities,  indoor funfairs and indoor skating rinks
  • community centres
  • crematoriums and funeral directors' premises
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop-off points
  • indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres
  • sports stadiums
  • conference or exhibition centres

Full information around face coverings can be found on the Scottish Government website here.