First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced in Scottish Parliament today that the last remaining Covid regulation – the wearing of face coverings – will be lifted in Scotland but not fully until April 18. In her statement, the First Minister said Scotland’s rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport will be gradually eased as part of a phased approach as the wave of the latest strain of Covid-19 “has peaked or is now peaking”.
The news comes as all remaining Covid restrictions apart from the wearing of face coverings were lifted in Scotland last week. However, from next Monday (April 4), it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear a face covering in places of worship or while attending a marriage ceremony, a civil partnership registration, a funeral service or a commemorative event. Then the wider legal requirement applying to shops, certain other indoor settings and public transport will be converted to guidance two weeks later on April 18.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “We will, of course, continue to encourage the wearing of face coverings in certain indoor places, especially where significant numbers of people are present. This phased approach strikes a sensible balance between our desire to remove this one remaining legal measure, and the common sense need for continued caution – not least for the sake of the NHS – while this wave of infection subsides.
“I recognize that face coverings are an inconvenience. However, given all the sacrifice of the past two years, and in view of the current pressure on the NHS, I believe the vast majority of people will accept that for a further two weeks this is a proportionate precautionary measure while we pass the peak of this latest wave. It also provides some further protection to those who are most at risk from the virus.”
The First Minister announced the daily case numbers, with 9,610 new cases identified through PCR or lateral flow tests reported. Two weeks ago, there were on average just over 12,400 new cases being reported each day, however, over the past week, it has fallen by 15% to 10,200 a day.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are hopeful that this wave has peaked or is now peaking. Indeed, this is being observed already in Northern Ireland which, unlike England and Wales, appears to have been ahead of Scotland in the transmission of BA.2. ”
The First Minister ended her statement saying: “Life has returned to normal for most of us. But Covid has not gone away – indeed, there will be very few of us in recent weeks who have been untouched by this virus, either ourselves or within our families. That in itself is a sign of how infectious it is. So, while the level of infection remains as high as it is, please do continue to take sensible, basic steps to protect yourself and others.”