First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced in Scottish Parliament today that all remaining Covid restrictions in Scotland will be lifted on Monday 21st March, apart from the requirement to wear facemasks. In her statement, the First Minister said Scotland’s rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport will remain in place until April due to a rise in cases of Covid-19.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “Given the current spike in case numbers, we consider it prudent to retain this requirement in regulation for a further short period. I know this will be disappointing for businesses and service providers such as day care services.
“However, ensuring continued widespread use of face coverings will provide some additional protection – particularly for the most vulnerable – at a time when the risk of infection is very high, and it may help us get over this spike more quickly.” The decision will be revisited again in two weeks, before Easter recess, and the expectation now is that this regulation will convert to guidance in early April.
The First Minister outlined in her statement that the remaining domestic legal measures will be replaced with appropriate guidance. From Monday, the requirement on businesses and service providers to retain customer contact details will end, and so too will the requirement for businesses, places of worship and service providers to have regard to Scottish government guidance on Covid, and to take reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance.
The First Minister also confirmed that people without Covid-19 symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests tests from April 18. People who have symptoms of Covid-19 will still be able to book PCR tests in the usual way until April 30.
From this date, test sites will close and people with symptoms will no longer be advised that they need to seek a test. Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that unlike in England, testing will remain free of charge in Scotland, saying, “Let me stress that for any purpose for which we continue to advise testing, access to tests will, in Scotland, remain free of charge.”
As well as ending the remaining domestic restrictions for Covid across Scotland, last few rules for travelling will also be lifted. These included the requirement to fill out a passenger locater form, and the need for unvaccinated travellers to take tests upon arrival. The UK will scrap these measures from the end of this week and the rulings will come into effect on Friday (March 18).
The FM says: “While we do have some concerns about this, UK travel patterns mean that diverging from the rest of the UK would cause economic disadvantage without delivering any meaningful public health benefit. We do, of course, retain the ability to reintroduce travel measures if, for example, a new variant emerges.”
Passenger locater forms will be removed, with current rules stating that details must be filled out within 72-hours of arriving to the UK. Multiple countries across Europe, such as Greece and Belgium, have scrapped this requirement. The form asked travellers to provide details including flight numbers, phone numbers and address. From March 18, non-vaccinated travellers will also no longer need to take pre-departure and day two PCR tests and to complete locator forms.
For more information regarding Covid-19 restrictions and guidance in Scotland, head to the government website here.