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28 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Scotland recommends people cover their face on public transport and in some shops

By Samuel Horti

The Scottish government has advised people to cover their face with a scarf or similar piece of fabric when on public transport or in other situations where social distancing may prove difficult.

Face coverings have not become mandatory in these situations, but Scottish government guidance says they may help prevent the spread of the virus in “enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet”.

“Given that the evidence of impact on transmission is relatively weak, the public use of facial coverings is not being made mandatory and will not be enforced at this stage,” the guidance said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at a press conference that the government might make face coverings mandatory in future. “As we go into a phase of lifting some of the restrictions and people are maybe coming into contact with more people than they are now we will review that and it may be at later stages we will take a tougher stance,” she said.

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The guidance stressed that wearing a face covering was not an alternative for social distancing and hand washing, and that it did not recommend people wear a “surgical or other medical grade mask”. The coverings it referred to are “made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf”.

“When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you must wash the face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of safely. Face coverings should not be used for children under the age of two years,” it said.

The UK government is still reviewing advice from scientific experts on face coverings.