Nicola Sturgeon confirms face masks will no longer be legal requirement from next month

Scots face another month of being legally required to wear face coverings in public spaces, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The First Minister told MSPs today that masks would no longer be compulsory from March 21 onwards – as long as no spike in covid cases is detected before then.

The public are currently expected to wear face coverings when in shops, using public transport, or moving around in a pub or restaurant.

But Sturgeon said that while the legal requirement will come to an end, she would still “strong encourage” Scots to wear coverings in public.

The face mask rule in England was scrapped last month.

The legal requirement to wear a face covering in public is finally ending
The legal requirement to wear a face covering in public is finally ending

It comes as the SNP leader announced a new framework to guide the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic.

She said: “As of March 21 – 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.

“However, 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 reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance. “

The Scottish Government will adopt three threat risk levels that could see restrictions reimposed, Sturgeon added.

Setting out the contingency strategy for low, medium and high risks, the First Minister said: “If a new variant emerged that was more transmissible and more severe, perhaps with the ability to evade vaccine or natural immunity, this would likely be classified as high risk.

“In those circumstances, we might advise people to limit social contacts for a period, and to work from home where possible and we may introduce some temporary protections for high-risk settings.

“If a new variant was either more transmissible or more severe, but not both, as is the case with Omicron, the initial threat assessment would likely be medium.

“In these circumstances, there may be a legal requirement to wear face coverings in some settings and we might issue guidance for businesses and service providers on reasonable measures to reduce the spread of covid on their premises.”

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