Coronavirus (COVID-19): Protective measures

Protective measures are things you should do to stop coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading.


  • wash your hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitiser
  • wear a face covering if you use public transport, use school transport (children aged 5 and over), visit a care home or hospital, or go to a shop, library, museum, bank or church
  • work from home if you can – your employer should support you to do this
  • use phone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
  • meet others outdoors wherever possible and try to keep your distance
  • keep rooms well ventilated when meeting other households indoors, if possible consider opening windows or a door


  • do not meet anyone with coronavirus symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia))
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

Hospital and GP appointments

You should access medical assistance remotely (not face-to-face), wherever possible.

If you have a scheduled hospital or medical appointment, talk to your GP or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need.

Generally, you should go to hospital and GP appointments on your own. In some circumstances you can bring someone else with you. These circumstances include if you:

  • find it difficult understanding what treatment or action your doctor is discussing
  • have dementia, a learning disability or autism
  • are potentially receiving life-changing information
  • are potentially receiving a cancer diagnosis
  • are discussing cancer treatment options
  • are pregnant – for example for an obstetric ultrasound
  • are distressed or stressed

There may be some occasions when you can have more than one other person with you at a hospital or GP appointment. For example, a translator and someone who gives you mobility support.

You may be able to have someone with you virtually during your appointment if they can’t attend in person. This could be through an electronic platform or by phone.

Hand washing and respiratory hygiene

To reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus:

  • wash your hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitiser
  • wash your hands when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home

Face coverings

You must wear a face covering certain indoor public places, including public transport.

A face covering can be any covering for your mouth and nose that’s made of cloth or other textiles, and that you can breathe through. Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. If a face shield is worn, another face covering must be worn underneath.

When applying or removing the covering, it’s important you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you should wash the face covering at 60 °C or dispose of it safely.

For a list of face covering exemptions, and to request an exemption card, visit Face Covering Exemption Card Scotland

Meeting other households outdoors

Try to keep your distance from others when meeting outdoors.

When meeting others outdoors:

  • follow our advice on hygiene, and wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • avoid touching hard surfaces such as gates, walls, fences and park benches with your hands
  • take hand sanitiser with you and use it often, especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • bring your own food, plates and cutlery if you’re eating together

Meeting other households indoors

Try to keep your distance from family and friends when meeting in a private home.

You should keep rooms well ventilated. If possible, consider opening windows or a door.

Looking after your wellbeing

You may find your mood and feelings are affected by the pandemic. You may feel bored, frustrated low or worried and have problems sleeping. It’s important to stay mentally and physically active during this time.

Read further advice on your mental wellbeing

Health and social care

Primary and community-based NHS services, including mental health, have reopened and:

  • COVID-free GP services will be retained and digital consultations will increase
  • the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service is available in community pharmacies
  • emergency dental hubs will provide more cover as dental practices reopen
  • urgent planned surgery which was previously paused has restarted
  • more emergency eyecare will be provided in the community

Making an emergency plan

Carers who do not already have an emergency plan should speak with family and friends to find out who could take over their caring role if they become ill or need to self-isolate. Your local carers’ centre may be able to help you to develop an emergency plan over the phone or online.

Make sure you have key information about the person you care for easily available. This will help anyone taking over their care.

Accessing PPE

The Scottish Government has published information for social care providers, personal assistants, and unpaid carers on how to access personal protective equipment (PPE)

Helpline for vulnerable people

A helpline (0800 111 4000) has been setup for those at increased risk who don’t have a support network, such as family or existing community support.

You can use this service if you:

  • can’t get online
  • are over 70 years old
  • have a disability
  • receive mental health support
  • are pregnant
  • receive a flu jab for health reasons

Callers will be connected to their local authority who will help them access the services they need, including:

  • essential food and medication
  • links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
  • emotional support
  • contact with local volunteer groups

The helpline is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Further information