MASKS will no longer be mandatory at a Dorset hospital from next week (April 11).
Dorset County Hospital has announced it will no longer require staff, visitors and patients to wear masks, as cases of Covid-19 are reducing across the county.
Many other healthcare settings in the community, such as GP surgeries, have already stepped back from making masks compulsory, the hospital said.
Surgical masks will still be available in main entrances for anyone who wishes to wear one – and anyone suffering from symptoms such as coughing or sneezing is encouraged to wear a mask to protect others from infection while in the hospital.
Meanwhile, masks will still be required in some clinical areas to protect patients who have lowered immunity.
There will also be a requirement to wear masks and enhanced PPE (personal protective equipment) in any areas treating certain respiratory infections, the hospital said.
Dorset County Hospital’s chief nursing officer and director of infection prevention and control (IPC), Jo Howarth, said: “Our priority remains patient safety. Although masks will no longer be mandatory in most clinical areas, we will still be following IPC guidance to keep vulnerable patients safe.
“Mask wearing will be a personal choice for people visiting most areas of our hospital and we will still have masks available at entrances for anyone wishing to take extra precautions.
“Our usual IPC guidance about washing or gelling your hands remains crucial in minimising the spread of infections within the hospital environment.”