Scientific and medical evidence used in relation to mandatory face coverings: FOI release

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

Information requested

Divulge all the SARS CoV-2 / COVID-19 data you have to date that you, must store, process, access and share with all corporation's worldwide, multinational corporations, Governments corporations all medical, health and safety risk assessment pursuant to mandatory Face mask wearing.


The Scottish Government has always and continues to make decisions based on the available scientific and medical evidence. Regarding face coverings, decisions were based on evidence and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The Scottish Government Covid-19 Advisory Group, commonly known as the CMO’s Advisory Group, applies the advice from the SAGE and other appropriate sources of evidence and information and use it to inform local decisions in Scotland.

The decision to make face coverings mandatory on public transport and retail settings was based on this evidence.

I have noted below links to the appropriate information :

  • On 4 June 2020, SAGE discussed mitigation measures which included the use of face covering. You can find further information in the meeting minutes which are available on the UK Government website here.

  • The World Health Organisation released update advice on face covering on the 5 June 2020.The guidance advised that to prevent Covid-19 transmission effectively in areas of community transmission, governments should encourage the general public to wear face coverings in specific situations and settings as part of comprehensive approach to suppress Covid-19 transmission. You can find a copy of this guidance on the WHO website here. This advice was updated on 1 December 2020 and can be found here.

  • The UK Government released a summary of the relevant SAGE reports for this topic. This can be found on the UK Parliament website here.

  • The Scottish Governments guidance on face coverings, including exemptions, can be found here.

The Scottish Government also completed an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) which allows us to assess how a policy will impact on people and have published this on the website: The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 4) Regulations 2020 ( The section relating to face covering starts on page 10 of this document.

We continue to review our policies on a regular basis in light of the emerging evidence on coronavirus and so we would urge you to continue to use the hyperlinks to find the latest position.

I have also included the following scientific studies on face coverings for your information:

Comparison of Face-Touching Behaviors Before and During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic | Global Health | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network

Should individuals in the community without respiratory symptoms wear facemasks to reduce the spread of COVID-19? (

Is risk compensation threatening public health in the covid-19 pandemic? | The BMJ

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Central Enquiry Unit
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The Scottish Government
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