The Scottish Government is recommending that people wear face coverings in shops, on public transport or in other enclosed spaces as a precaution against Covid-19.
Nicola Sturgeon said the new advice is not mandatory and stressed it was not a substitute for following existing guidance on social distancing and hand and cough hygiene.
The government recommends wearing a face covering “in limited circumstances” when you are in a place where it is difficult to keep two metres apart from other people.
Examples the guidance provides include public transport and food shops, but officials add the coverings are unlikely to be needed outdoors unless the area is particularly crowded.
The government says people can use a cloth face covering such as a scarf or a pulled-up jumper and does not advise people to seek out surgical or medical-grade masks, as NHS workers are the priority users for proper PPE.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister stressed people still need to follow all the social distancing advice, such as keeping two metres apart from others and not mixing with other households.
Other rules still in place are that you should only leave your home to shop for basic necessities, for one form of exercise per day, for medical need or to help a vulnerable person.
“What I don’t want is people thinking they are invincible to this virus because they are wearing a face covering,” Sturgeon said.
She said the Scottish Government is not recommending the use of face masks for children under the age of two, and said she could also understand why groups such as asthmatics would not to cover their mouths and noses.
But in general, the FM said: “We are recommending that you do wear a cloth face covering if you are in an enclosed space with others where social distancing is difficult, for example public transport or in a shop.”
She said wearing a face covering is more about protecting others than yourself, but said limited evidence on the effectiveness of coverings is why it is currently not mandatory to wear them in public, as it is in some countries.
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Our members have invested significantly over a very short period in social distancing and other health and hygiene measures in order to protect staff and customers, and will continue to ensure colleagues in stores and warehouses have the necessary protection as advised by government.
“We have previously written to ministers to say that if there are to be changes to the necessary protection required for shopworkers, then we would ask government to engage with us at the earliest opportunity so we can understand what’s required and the timeframe for implementation.
“This would allow sufficient time to place orders and acquire stock, critical as PPE supply chains are already stretched.”
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