Guidance advising for face coverings to be used in all health and social care settings is set to be lifted next week. 

The Scottish Government originally brought in the mandate in 2020 in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19. 

Requirements to wear facemasks in hospitality, retail and on public transport were lifted alongside lockdown restrictions, but advice for healthcare has remained until this month.

From Tuesday, May 16, these settings will also return to pre-pandemic guidance. 

Mask use will once again be determined by clinical need based on infection prevention and control advice.

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However, staff, patients, service users and visitors will not be routinely asked to wear facemasks in health and social care settings.

It comes mere weeks after the World Health Organisation (WHO said the Covid-19 pandemic was no longer a global health emergency. 

Chief Nursing Officer Alex McMahon said: “Due to the success of vaccines in protecting people, and the availability of treatments, now is the right time to revise the advice on wearing masks in health and social care settings and return to pre-pandemic guidance.

“We recognise that some staff may have concerns around the withdrawal of this guidance and would expect organisations to undertake individual occupational health assessments and risk assessments as appropriate.

“We continue to be vigilant in our response to Covid-19 and encourage everyone to make sure they are up to date with the boosters available to them.

"We are grateful for the tireless work of health and social care teams during these challenging times and to everyone who has helped them by adhering to the guidance.”

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However, the change has provoked concerns among the healthcare union BMA Scotland which warned that the illness continues to pose health risks. 

Dr Lailah Peel, deputy chair of BMA Scotland, said: “Covid continues to exist and pose health risks, particularly to those with existing comorbidities – patients, members of staff, or visitors to healthcare settings – and some health and care workers may still prefer to wear face masks for both the safety of their patients and themselves.

“For that reason, they may also prefer others around them to continue to wear masks and that is something that should be respectfully acknowledged and considered.

“Ultimately, BMA Scotland would expect that employers respect an individual’s decision to continue wearing face masks and appropriate PPE based on their own preference and assessment of risk, and ensure it is available for them in clinical settings.”