Douglas Ross asked Nicola Sturgeon why she ‘won’t trust’ the Scottish public to take measures to protect themselves from Covid, after extending the requirement to wear a face covering.
The Scottish Conservative leader challenged the First Minister over the decision after she made the announcement at Holyrood on Tuesday.
And Ross insisted that “we can’t stay stuck with Covid rules forever”, as he pointed to the success of the UK’s vaccination programme.
Raising the issue following a statement by Sturgeon, Ross said the extension of the use of face masks would be a “blow” four households and businesses across the country.
“Over two years ago, our lives were turned upside down by Covid,” Ross told MSPs.
“The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on all of us. We’ve all had to make sacrifices, we’ve all lost loved ones to this virus, we’ve all changed our way of life.
“Covid has not gone away, but we have learned to live with it. The UK’s world-leading vaccination scheme has been a game changer, allowing us to move on and get back to normality.
“It’s true that case rates are higher at the moment than any of us would like, but Covid cases were always going to rise as restrictions were eased.
“We can’t get complacent with Covid, but we have to move forward, we can’t stay stuck with Covid rules forever.
“That’s why it will be a blow for households and businesses that the First Minister has decided to keep the face mask rules in place.”
Ross questioned the SNP leader over the timescale for reviewing the requirement for face coverings.
“The Government said last month these would be removed on March 21, but now that’s being delayed,” the Scottish Conservative leader continued.
“Why won’t the First Minister trust the Scottish public to take the steps they think are right to protect themselves and their families?
“And why are we back to this ‘wait and see’ approach again with no firm date to allow businesses and the public to plan ahead?
“The First Minister said she will report to Parliament again before the Easter recess, but there is no guarantee that a positive announcement will be made then.
“So can the First Minister tell us what criteria her government is basing this decision on? And what will need to change for this face mask restriction to be removed at the next review?”
Sturgeon insisted that the extension to the face masks requirement will help get the spike in Covid cases under control more quickly.
And she suggested that people across Scotland will welcome the “precautionary” move.
She responded: “Scotland is not stuck. Let me just remind the Chamber and indeed, all of Scotland, that as of Monday, every single legal measure to help us control Covid will have been lifted with a limited, temporary exception for a continued requirement to wear face coverings.
“Now, given the spike we’re seeing in cases right now and the very high risk of infection, this helps us protect each other and in particular during this spike it helps us to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“And I think it will help us get this spike under control more quickly than might otherwise be the case.
“And I think that’s very much in the spirit of solidarity and mutual concern for each other that has characterised the public response to this pandemic over the last two years.
“And I think many people in Scotland will actually, in light of very high cases right now, welcome this precautionary move.
“And even those who may not welcome it, and there will be those I understand in that category, I think will nevertheless be accepting of that and understand the reasons for it.”