Scots will no longer be required to wear face masks from next month

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the changes at Holyrood.

Scots will no longer be required to wear face masks from next month and Covid passport scheme to be dropped iStock
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

The Covid-19 passport scheme will be dropped in Scotland next week, whilst the legal requirement to wear a face covering in certain indoor settings and on public transport will become guidance next month.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement in a statement at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an end to all Covid restrictions in England.

Speaking at Holyrood, Sturgeon explained that people will still be recommended strongly to wear face coverings in shops, in indoor public places and on public transport.

Currently in Scotland, it is a legal requirement to wear face coverings in such settings.

Meanwhile, the Covid passport scheme, which has been in place since the end of last year applies to venues such as sports stadiums and nightclubs, will end on Monday, February 28.

However, businesses will still be able to use the scheme if they choose to do so, with the app remaining operational.

As part of a further, significant easing of coronavirus measures, from March 21, the First Minister said the Government expects to also end the legal requirement on businesses, places of worship and service providers to have regard to guidance on Covid.

And the legal requirement on businesses and service providers to retain customer customer contact details is also expected to end on March 21.

Setting out the changes, Sturgeon told MSPs: “The Covid certification scheme requiring certain venues and events to check the vaccine or test status of attendees will come to an end next Monday February, 28.

“The app which supports the scheme will remain operational, however, so any business that wishes to continue Covid certification on a voluntary basis to reassure customers will be able to do so.”

She continued: “As of 21 March – assuming no significant adverse developments in the course of the virus – we expect that the legal requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor settings and on public transport will be converted to guidance.

“We will continue to strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings in shops and other indoor public places, and on public transport.

“We also expect on March 21 to lift the legal requirement for businesses, places of worship and service providers to have regard to Scottish government guidance on Covid, and to take practicable measures set out in the guidance.

“And the legal requirement on businesses and service providers to retain customer contact details is also expected to end on March 21.”

Insight – Colin Mackay, STV News political editor

Yesterday, the Prime Minister scrapped all Covid restrictions and measures. Today, the First Minister was never going to go quite as far or as fast.

One of the biggest differences is testing. This has always been done on a four-nation basis, with testing bought and paid for at a UK Government level.

Boris Johnson said it cost £2bn in January and he plans to scrap it at the end of March, but that is too early for Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish Government is looking in to how to keep free testing and how to pay for it.

In his statement to the Commons yesterday, the Prime Minister said that after free asymptomatic testing is scrapped on April 1, people can buy a test.   

A few weeks ago, health secretary Humza Yousaf told me the system was costing about £10m to £15m a week in Scotland.

He said each box of seven lateral flow tests cost around £20. Given that we are in a cost of living crisis that’s quite a price to pay for people on low incomes trying to keep themselves and elderly or vulnerable family members safe.

Right now, we are encouraged to test before mixing with others, today the First Minister said that would be cut back to twice a week.

So testing is going in England, but the First Minister wants to keep testing free in Scotland and will publish plans next month.

Another big point of difference in the attitude to face masks. On a trip to London just before Christmas, I noticed that as soon as I crossed the border face masks vanished.

Even just going to a motorway service station, I was the odd one out for wearing  one.

They are no longer required in England, but in Scotland they are still mandatory in public places, on public transport, and shops for another month.

On March 21, that legal requirement will be downgraded to guidance but the First Minister will “strongly recommend” that we still wear them.

Scotland is heading towards the same level of restrictions as England, but is in no hurry to get there.

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