Coronavirus (COVID-19): use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes

Guidance for staff on use of face coverings in these settings. This guidance was withdrawn on 16 May 2023.

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This guidance was withdrawn on 16 May 2023.

From this date, social care settings should follow the infection prevention and control guidance within NHS Scotland National Infection Prevention and Control Manual and Care Home Infection Prevention and Control Manual.

We issued a letter to social care settings to confirm the guidance withdrawal.

This guidance covers all social care settings including:

  • adult and older people’s care homes including respite services
  • individuals’ homes e.g. care at home
  • sheltered housing
  • retirement/amenity housing
  • extra care housing
  • housing with care and supported living
  • supported housing settings including housing with multiple occupancies
  • building based day services/community services
  • residential children’s homes
  • stand-alone residential respite/short break services for children and adults

The guidance is relevant to:

  • all social care staff (both those in direct and non-direct care roles)
  • supported individuals
  • visitors (family and friends)
  • visiting professionals including contractors to social care settings

There is separate guidance for healthcare professionalsHowever when visiting a social care setting, healthcare professionals should follow the advice for social care staff.

The reference to ‘face masks’ or ‘masks’ are for Type IIR fluid resistant surgical masks (‘FRSMs’) or transparent face masks, which may be worn to support lip reading where appropriate, and differ to face coverings.

COVID sense guidance for the general public still applies. Amongst other recommendations, this recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in indoor public places and on public transport. This is particularly important in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces and where it is not possible to maintain a safe distance from other people you would not normally meet.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures remain as per the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM) and the Care Home Infection Prevention and Control Manual (CH IPCM). The remaining pandemic IPC measures are detailed in National Infection Prevention and Control Manual: Appendix 21: COVID-19 Pandemic IPC Controls for Health and Social Care Settings (

All staff within the health and care settings should continue to apply Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs) at all times for all supported individuals. Additionally, transmission-based precautions (TBPs) (i.e. enhanced precautions) should continue to be applied when caring for individuals who have suspected or known infection or colonisation. The NIPCM and the CH IPCM provide more details on TBPs to be applied depending on the route of infection. Additionally, it is important that the respiratory symptom assessment questions in National Infection Prevention and Control Manual: Appendix 21: COVID-19 Pandemic IPC Controls for Health and Social Care Settings ( are followed.

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