The Scottish government has recommended that people cover their faces in closed public spaces, such as shops and public transport.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it might be “somewhat beneficial” to wear a cloth face cover in places where safe social distancing was difficult.
But she said it was “not a substitute” for existing lock restrictions.
Government directives are not mandatory and will not be applied.
Sturgeon noted that the advice was on cloth clothing such as a scarf rather than “medical grade face masks” like those used by health and care workers.
Prime Minister says evidence of usefulness for face covers is “limited” but there may be “some benefit to wearing a face cover if you enter a confined space where you will be entering into a contract with several people and that it is difficult to distance oneself in complete safety ”. “.
She said: “To be clear, the benefit comes mainly in cases where a person could be infected with the virus but is not aware of it because they do not have symptoms and therefore do not isolate themselves completely.
“Wearing a face covering in these circumstances could reduce the risk of this person spreading the virus. “
Sturgeon said there was no evidence to suggest that wearing a face covering outdoors was beneficial.
The Prime Minister has warned that she does not want people to “think they are invincible” while covering their faces in enclosed spaces such as stores.
She said, “It may do good in limited circumstances, but it cannot and should not be seen as a substitute for other rules and directives. “
The Scottish government’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, said earlier this month that there was “no evidence” to support members of the public wearing protective masks.
What does the guide say?
According to government advice, face masks should not be used by people with asthma or children under the age of two.
He adds: “When applying or removing the coating, it is important to wash your hands first and avoid touching your face.
“After each use, you should wash or safely dispose of the covering face at 60 degrees centigrade. “
- Read the full government guidelines here
The guidelines also state that they “are not made mandatory and will not be applied at this stage” due to “relatively weak” evidence of the impact of masks on virus transmission.
However, Sturgeon said the issue would be kept under review as the government is considering how to ease the lock restrictions.
What’s going on in other countries?
Other countries have introduced different rules for wearing face masks.
They must become compulsory in public transport in Germany, in supermarkets and pharmacies in Austria.
Residents of Lombardy in Italy must cover their noses and mouths when they are outside, and the French government plans to distribute masks to the general public.
Air passengers in Canada must wear a non-medical mask or face cover, and in the United States, people are advised to wear “cloth face covers” in supermarkets and pharmacies.
- Should we all cover our faces now?
Sturgeon also announced that everyone over 70 in Scotland will now be tested for Covid-19 when they are admitted to hospital. They will also be tested every four days throughout their stay.
The latest figures show that 10,721 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, including 1,754 in hospital and 126 in intensive care – figures which, according to Sturgeon, “continue to inspire cautious optimism.”
Sturgeon said that another 70 people who tested positive for the virus died, bringing the total to 1,332.
Wider statistics, including deaths for which Covid-19 was a suspected cause, will be released on Wednesday.
Sturgeon said: “These numbers are not and will never be viewed as mere statistics – behind each of these figures is a unique and irreplaceable person whose loss is a source of grief for their friends and family. “