VISITORS to NHS healthcare settings are no longer expected to routinely wear masks or face coverings.
The national guidance in respect of COVID-19 takes effect from today, Tuesday May 16.
However, masks will still be required in non-routine situations – including circumstances where there are risks around infection and vulnerability.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Executive Jeff Ace said: “The guidance newly received from The Scottish Government around the use of masks and face coverings is very welcome.
“It marks a milestone in the response to COVID-19 which began over three years ago. The moves comes shortly after World Health Organisation said that, while people should remain cautious, COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency.
“We’ve faced massive challenges, and been required to adapt not just organisationally but societally.
“Our staff have been tremendous in their response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, in adhering to all the requirements and guidance, and I anticipate that this move will be seen as a significant and positive turning point.”
The new guidance follows advice from Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland and Scottish Government Professional Clinical Advisors in Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC).
The new guidance is not mandatory, and NHS staff have been advised that any staff member or member of the public who wishes to wear a mask or face covering should be encouraged and supported.
It is important to note that there is continued general guidance around infection prevention and control measures, and that anyone with a respiratory infection should continue to wear a mask when meeting vulnerable individuals or attending a healthcare setting.