Face mask laws to end in Scotland on ‘phased basis’ from Monday – Sturgeon

But the requirement to wear them in shops and on public transport will continue until April 18.

30 March 2022

Covid laws which require Scots to wear face masks on public transport and some other indoor public settings are to be removed on a “phased basis” from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The Scottish First Minister confirmed the use of masks will become guidance, rather than a legal requirement.

That is despite daily infection levels north of the border still being “very high”, although Ms Sturgeon said these may now be stabilising.

With the number of people in hospital with the virus in Scotland having fallen slightly from the record high reported on Tuesday, she added there is “cautious optimism” that the latest wave of the virus may have peaked.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that the Scottish Cabinet has agreed the “legal requirement to wear face coverings should be replaced with guidance” on a “phased basis”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced ending the legal requirement for face masks will happen on a ‘phased basis’ (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

From Monday 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 commemorative event.

The wider legal requirement for wearing face masks – which applies to shops, public transport and some other indoor settings – will then be converted to guidance two weeks later on April 18.

Ms Sturgeon stressed the Government will “continue to encourage the wearing of face coverings in certain indoor places, especially where significant numbers of people are present”.

She added: “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 recognise 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 latest figures show 2,344 people were in hospital with Covid in Scotland on Tuesday, down from 2,383 the previous day.

Daily figures published on Wednesday by the Scottish Government also show a further 9,610 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the past 24 hours, as well as 34 deaths.

This takes the total number of people who died within 28 days of contracting coronavirus in Scotland to 11,393.

The threat level from the pandemic is currently at “medium”, but Ms Sturgeon told MSPs she is “optimistic that it will move to being a low threat during the course of the spring”.

Recent high levels of infection have “put the NHS under even more severe strain”, she conceded.

Speaking about the latest statistics, she added: “The number of people in hospital with Covid reported today – 2,344 – is 39 lower than yesterday.

“But yesterday’s figure was the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic. So today’s number is still exceptionally high, and significantly above the previous peak of hospital cases, which was 2053 in January 2021.”

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