NHS downgrade COVID precautionary measures


Following on from the WHO’s declaration that the coronavirus pandemic is no longer a “global health emergency”, the NHS has issued updated guidelines meaning face coverings will no longer be required by patients and visitors when attending hospitals or care homes.


While some restrictions apply, the new guidance means most patients and visitors will no longer have to wear face masks or coverings in NHS hospitals, unless they choose to. Please check with your local hospital before visiting.


The Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care and the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport have agreed to withdraw the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): extended use of face masks and face coverings in hospitals, primary care and community healthcare settings’ guidance and the ‘Coronavirus (COVID19): extended use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes’ guidance.


In most hospitals, face masks will still be provided, for those who choose to wear them.


In certain situations, visitors and patients may still be required to wear a face covering however – particularly in areas where the most vulnerable of patients are being treated, or to try and reduce COVID outbreaks during peak seasons.

NHS staff will also be given the choice whether they want to wear a face mask or not in most areas, however they may be required in areas with particularly vulnerable patients (such as the High Dependency Unit), areas with high levels of COVID (such as COVID Wards) or areas with a high patient turnover (such as the Emergency Department).


Speaking to the BBC, Professor Jason Leitch, Senior Clinical Advisor to the Scottish Government, said that the change would allow for a more practical, risk-based, approach to the current state of COVID as it stands today.

“One of the things we had was extra rules about face coverings for Covid – now we’re going back to standard rules,” he said. “Everyone is fatigued with a global pandemic.

“We’re downgrading the use of face coverings [in healthcare settings]. That’s a good thing for communication, for families and for most people.”