Last reviewed 3 May 2022

Health and social care staff in Scotland, including GPs, are now able to access FFP3 face masks based on risk assessment and personal preference.

New guidance from the Scottish Government has been issued to NHS boards and registered care home providers, setting out the process line managers and staff should follow when requesting access to FFP3 (respirator) masks in place of Type IIR (surgical masks).

The legal requirement to wear face coverings in shops, hospitality venues and on public transport in Scotland came to an end on 18 April, although the Scottish Government and health experts are still strongly advising people to continue to wear masks voluntarily.

The guidance means health and care staff in Scotland can protect themselves by asking for a risk assessment from their line manager if they feel they need to have access to an FFP3 mask to ensure their personal safety.

FFP3 masks will continue to be accessible to staff undertaking any aerosol-generating procedure in a respiratory pathway and in a non-respiratory pathway where a member of staff has concerns about potential Covid-19 exposure.

This comes as, from 1 May, a raft of restrictions put in place over the pandemic in Scotland are lifted. The health service is also now officially no longer on an emergency footing.

Public health advice is to "stay at home" if you feel unwell or have a fever, and people are no longer advised to take a test. Free lateral flow tests are now not available to the general population and PCR testing sites have been closed.

People without symptoms are no longer advised to take regular tests, although testing remains available to specific groups such as high-risk patients, unpaid carers, health and social care workers and for people visiting care homes or hospitals.

In England, the last remaining restrictions were replaced by a Living with Covid plan, and clinical commissioning groups provide fit testing for GPs and practice staff who have been risk-assessed as needing FFP3 masks.

The Scottish Government’s guidance is available at www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/dl/DL(2022)10.pdf.