Use of face coverings in Scotland

Up to date travel advice for Scotland

Please visit Scottish Government advice when travelling for the latest guidance and information for travelling in Scotland as well as our own guidance for people with vision impairment when using public transport.


On this page

Face Coverings – guidance for service users

As Scotland continues to ease the lockdown measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, face coverings are required by law in a variety of settings including public transport, in shops and supermarkets, taxis and private hire vehicles, some ferry services and airline services. 

In enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household, you must wear a face covering. This includes shops, cinemas, banks and buildings societies, takeaways, community centres, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site.

People must by law wear a face covering on public transport and public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports. This applies to open-air railway platforms, but not to bus stops.

You are not required to wear a face covering in hospitality premises such as cafes, coffee shops, restaurants or pubs. 

Measures can be taken if people do not comply with this law. If, for example, you do not comply with the requirement to wear a face covering on public transport, you can be denied access to the service and/or issued with a fixed penalty notice of £60.  Similarly, a business or venue operating in contravention with these measures will be committing an offence.

On August 7 2020, the Scottish Government announced new guidance about the use of face shields. Face shields may be used, but only if they are worn in addition to a face covering underneath, as evidence shows that they do not provide adequate protection.

More details about the latest government rules and guidance in relation to the mandatory use of face coverings can be found by visiting coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others.

Face covering exemptions

Some people are not required to wear a face covering, these include:

  • children under 5 years of age
  • police constables or workers such as paramedics acting in the course of their duty 
  • staff such as drivers or checkout assistants who are physically separated, by means of, for example, screens, from passengers or customers
  • shop workers if they maintain a 2 metre distance from customers or members of the public.

You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:

  • you have a health condition or you are disabled and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently. 
  • individual discretion should be applied in considering the use of face coverings for other children including, for example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering
  • you need to eat or drink
  • you are taking medication
  • you are communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading
  • a relevant person, such as a police officer, asks you to remove your face covering.

For anyone who has legitimate cause to not wear a face covering, the government has introduced a voluntary exemption card scheme. The approved design can be downloaded from their website for use on a mobile device or to be printed out as a card or badge. Details of the exemption card are be found by at

If you have any questions please contact