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Viral infections

Face coverings to be made mandatory in community pharmacies, confirms Scottish government

Anyone entering a shop in Scotland after 10 July 2020 will be required to wear a face covering.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

Wearing a face mask while shopping ss20

Source: Shutterstock.com

The Scottish government has said that although the evidence on the use of face coverings “remains limited”, it “supports their use in certain circumstances” — including while out shopping

Face coverings will be mandatory in shops across Scotland from 10 July 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish government has announced.

The government has confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that this will include community pharmacies.

In guidance updated on 7 July 2020, the Scottish government said that the evidence on the use of face coverings “remains limited, but supports their use in certain circumstances”.

It added they should be worn in enclosed spaces, where it is difficult to maintain two-metre physical distancing and where there is a risk of close contact between multiple people who are not members of the same household — including shops or businesses; visits to care homes and to adult hospitals as an outpatient; and GP surgeries or pharmacies.

Jonathan Burton, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scottish Pharmacy Board and a community pharmacist based in Stirling, Scotland, welcomed the announcement. It would, he said, “provide some additional protections for both patients and staff in pharmacies”.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has already issued guidance for pharmacy teams following the announcement, highlighting exemptions and also reassuring pharmacy staff they are not expected to enforce the rules.

“Enforcement: this will be carried out by the police, with no expectation that pharmacy team members carry out this duty,” it says.

“Some people will feel very strongly about this issue, whether they support mandatory face coverings or are opposed to the idea — and some of your colleagues will no doubt also have a position on the matter. It may be useful to have a think ahead to some of the scenarios you may come across, and plan how you might address each.”

Posters are also available from the CPS and RPS websites to highlight the key messages around face coverings to the public.

As of 8 July 2020, 18,309 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland, of whom 2,490 have died. 

On 17 June 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that face coverings should be worn in pharmacies in England.

This came after guidance published on 5 June 2020 said that from 15 June, outpatients and visitors to hospitals should wear face coverings “to prevent the spread of infection from the wearer”, but made no mention of primary care sites.

The DHSC’s confirmation followed calls from the RPS for the earlier guidance to be extended to primary care settings.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208158

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