Social care staff and visitors are no longer being advised to wear facemasks at all times under new guidance published.

The recommendation has been lifted due to a sharp drop in coronavirus infections and a reduction in severity of illness, which has been driven by Scotland’s successful vaccination programme which has so far seen more than 12 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in Scotland.

Care home residents and their loved ones will benefit from these more relaxed visiting arrangements. Masks and face coverings in social care may still be worn if recommended in certain situations, such as a local outbreak of COVID, or if staff deem it necessary. Staff and visitors remain free to wear one if they choose.

This guidance balances the risk of harm from COVID-19 with the impact masks can have on communication, mental wellbeing and rights and choices of those working in and using social care services.

Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“Our phenomenally successful vaccination programme has driven down infections and saved the NHS from untold pressures.

“Removing the need for facemasks in social care settings including care homes is the latest step in our path to recovering from the pandemic.

“This will make communication and relationships easier in care settings, benefiting mental health and promoting the rights and choices of those working in and using social care.”