Correspondence of decision to keep face coverings: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

  • Details of all correspondence, including emails and notes of meetings, in connection with the decision by the Scottish Government in March 2022 to keep people in the country continue to use face masks despite England opting for the opposite approach, with the exception of some situations.
  • Details of the correspondence dealt with by the Scottish Government and various agencies/bodies involved, such as NHS Scotland and Government Ministers, which backed up this decision, which was said to be due to a rise in Covid cases in Scotland at the time.


On 15 March 2022, the First Minister of Scotland announced that the remaining domestic legal measures relating to COVID-19 would be removed with one temporary precautionary exception which was the continued legal requirement to wear a face coverings on public transport, and in certain indoor public spaces. This decision was based upon the latest scientific and medical evidence, of which I have provided extracts of the information you have requested in Annex A.

It is important to note, that the legal requirement to wear face coverings was converted to guidance on a phased approach with the final phase taking place on 18 April 2022. Further information can be found on the First Minister speech dated 30 March 2022.

On reviewing materials within the scope of your request, an exemption has been applied in line with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

The exemption applied in this instance is:

A small amount of information has been redacted from the documents disclosed under section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials. This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’, therefore taking into account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202300339336 - Annex A


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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