People should wear face coverings in shops to keep themselves and others safe, Nicola Sturgeon has said, arguing it is “the right thing to do”.
She said Scots should get used to wearing coverings or masks in public “for the foreseeable future” after they became compulsory in shops as well as on public transport.
The First Minister issued a plea for people to abide by the new law making face coverings in stores mandatory from Friday, appealing for Scots to do so “in solidarity” to protect both themselves and others.
The move to compulsory face coverings in shops for everyone over the age of five, with exemptions for some medical conditions such as asthma, has come into force as Scotland moves into phase three of easing the coronavirus lockdown.
Sturgeon said the latest lifting of restrictions – with larger groups now able to meet and some relaxation of physical distancing – allows people much more freedom, but she warned it also brings “a moment of maximum danger”.
Speaking about face coverings during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said: “I’m asking everybody to stick to the law, not from a fear of enforcement, but because it’s the right thing to do – it helps keep us and other people safe.
“I encourage people to see wearing a face covering for the foreseeable future when you go to the shops to become as automatic as putting a seatbelt on is in a car already.”
Asked about the potential burden being placed on shop workers by the policy, the FM said she does not expect staff to have to enforce the rule and, where necessary, police could issue fines to those who do not comply.
“The key here is for all of us as responsible citizens to do it because it’s the right thing to do,” she added.
“The vast bulk of the population over almost four long, hard months have done the right thing at great personal cost and sacrifice and that’s why we are where we are today, so let’s keep doing the right things.”
Describing her own experience of wearing a mask, Sturgeon said: “When I first started to wear one some weeks back, I thought ‘I’m never going to get used to this’.
“I wear glasses to read and my glasses steamed up, and you just feel that you can’t breathe properly.
“Now I don’t really think about it, when I put one on it feels, I wouldn’t say it feels absolutely natural, but it’s not something that I feel great discomfort.
“So give it a go, try it.”
Speaking alongside the First Minister, national clinical director Jason Leitch said face coverings are not required to be medical-standard masks but should cover the nose and mouth with at least two layers of fabric.
Prof Leitch added: “These face coverings are now mandatory on public transport and shops, but you should also wear them in any other enclosed space where physical distancing is more difficult, particularly if you’re at risk of close contact with others.
“That might include care home visits to the elderly, visits to hospitals, as an outpatient, visits to GP surgeries or pharmacies.”