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Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks

Last updated: 28 Jan 2022 - see all updates
Published: 30 Oct 2020

Rules and guidance on wearing face coverings and masks, including exemptions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks


Wearing a face covering or mask helps keep you and others safe from COVID-19. You can still catch and pass on the virus even if you have been vaccinated, so wearing a face covering helps to reduce the spread.

By law, everyone age 12 and over must wear a face covering in most indoor public places in Scotland.

Places you need to wear a face covering include:

  • shops
  • bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs
  • churches and other places of worship
  • public transport, including stations and bus stops
  • at work (including tradespeople working in people’s homes)

You are also advised to wear a face covering outdoors in crowded places, and especially in places where people gather. For example, outdoor markets and large events. You may want to wear a face covering in the street if it is very busy.

There are exemptions to this rule for some people and situations. If exempt, you may choose not to wear a face covering. This would be the case if, for example:

  • you’re under 12 years old
  • you’ve got an illness or disability which means you cannot wear one
  • wearing one would cause you severe distress

There are also some situations when you can temporarily remove your face covering, for example when exercising or when sitting at a table in a restaurant, cafe or bar or when you are eating or drinking. Go to the exemptions section for more information.

Wearing a face covering is just one of the things that you can do to keep yourself and others safe. You should take other precautions, such as:

We will keep the legal requirement to wear face coverings under regular review. Our decisions will continue to be guided by the latest clinical and scientific evidence, to ensure requirements are necessary and proportionate.

First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 28 Jan 2022 -