COVID-19: Face mask rules end in Scotland – a day after Sturgeon reported to police after appearing to breach restrictions | Politics News


The legal requirement to wear face masks on public transport and most indoor public spaces in Scotland has ended.

It is Scotland’s final legal COVID requirement to be lifted – though the Scottish government is still recommending the use of face masks where appropriate.

The long-planned easing of rules comes a day after Scotland’s first minister was reported to police after appearing to breach the face mask rule while on the campaign trail.

Nicola Sturgeon was filmed not wearing a face covering as she greeted customers in a barber’s shop in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday.

On Monday, Police Scotland confirmed officers had spoken to Ms Sturgeon to “remind her of the importance of wearing a face covering when there is a legal requirement to do so” following the footage.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives to update MSPs on any changes to the Covid restrictions at the Scottish Parliament Holyrood Edinburgh. Picture date: Tuesday March 15, 2022.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured in March, was reported to police over the incident on Saturday

Police Scotland said in a statement: “Local officers have spoken to the first minister to remind her of the importance of wearing a face covering when there is a legal requirement to do so.

“Given the circumstances of this incident, Police Scotland is satisfied that no further action is necessary. This is in line with our proportionate approach throughout the pandemic.”

In a statement, Ms Sturgeon apologised for the incident and admitted she had made “an error”.

“On Saturday, while campaigning outdoors in East Kilbride I was invited into a local barber shop. After a few seconds of being in the shop, I realised I had forgotten to put my face covering back on. I then immediately put it on,” the SNP’s leader said.

“However, I accept that not wearing a face covering even for a few seconds was an error on my part and I am sorry for that.

“Having received complaints about the matter, Police Scotland made contact with me. This is what they would have done with anyone else in these circumstances, and they were absolutely right to treat me no differently to any other citizen.

“I explained that the error was inadvertent and the police have confirmed that the matter is closed.”

The first minister added: “While the law no longer requires face coverings to be worn, I will continue to do so in circumstances where this can help reduce the risk of infection, and I encourage everyone to do likewise.”

Ms Sturgeon previously apologised in December 2020 after she breached COVID rules by taking off her face mask at a funeral wake, describing it as a “stupid mistake”.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said Saturday’s incident shows Ms Sturgeon “isn’t practising what she preaches on face masks”.

“She’s happy virtue signalling for official photos but behind closed doors, it’s clear she doesn’t believe in her own rules so why should anyone else,” she added.

From today, rules surrounding Scotland’s test and protect system have also changed.

People without symptoms are no longer being asked to take regular lateral flow tests, and free devices for twice-weekly routine testing will no longer be available for the general population.

Until the end of April, Scots with COVID symptoms are still required to isolate and get a PCR test.

But from April 30, test sites will close and people with symptoms will no longer be advised that they need to seek a test.


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