Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said mask rules could remain in place for years as they are “not the biggest handicap” people are having to endure. MailOnline has more.
Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s mask rules could remain in place for years to come if they help the fight against Covid today – as she blasted Boris Johnson‘s decision to axe most restrictions from this week.
The First Minister said that face coverings were “not the biggest handicap” that people were having to endure as the country attempts to recover from Covid.
A range of measures introduced on Boxing Day to deal with the Omicron variant will be scrapped from tomorrow, but laws making masks mandatory in shops and other settings with [sic] remain.
In contrast, the Prime Minister has unveiled a bonfire of almost all restrictions in England by March, including guidance on masks.
Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme today if she can see people wearing masks for “months or years to come”, in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said:
“I hope not. I don’t want any of these measures to be in place for any longer than is necessary. But masks … are something we can do. None of us enjoy wearing them but they are perhaps not the biggest handicap to endure in order to try to stem transmission. So while they can make a difference to controlling the virus then I think it is something we should do. Again I would suggest that it is England that is the outlier here, not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or many countries across the world.”
Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, Murdo Fraser said:
“Nicola Sturgeon still can’t bring herself to admit the restrictions she imposed over Christmas were unnecessary. The SNP are quick to impose Covid rules but far too slow in getting vital funding to businesses. It’s shameful that so many small companies are still waiting to receive a single penny. It’s baffling that Nicola Sturgeon plans to continue with the vaccine passport scheme even though she can’t point to any hard evidence showing it’s effective.” …
From tomorrow, bars and restaurants in Scotland will no longer only be able to serve customers seated at tables, while social distancing will also be removed.
Nightclubs will also be allowed to reopen as she sweeps away restrictions in place since before Christmas, while plans to extend the Covid passport scheme have been scrapped.
Attendance limits on indoor events will also be lifted – bringing them into line with outdoor events in a move that came into effect yesterday.
However baseline coronavirus measures in place before the Omicron wave will remain, including masks are still legally required indoors and on public transport.
In contrast in England, Mr Johnson last week announced plans to scrap all Covid restrictions by the spring.
Plan B will also be ditched as the Omicron wave continued to recede.
The under-fire PM ended working from home with immediate effect, with the remaining Omicron-fighting measures – Covid passports and compulsory face masks – to be dropped from Thursday in an attempt to win back the support of Tory MPs and voters following the Partygate row.
He also laid out his intentions to remove all remaining Covid laws by March 24th, including basic measures like mandatory self-isolation for positive cases and the requirement to give your address to NHS Test and Trace if you have Covid.
Scotland’s approach is similar to Wales’s, where even ‘Alert Level Zero’ retains the mask mandate, vaccine passports and self-isolation laws. Will they ever let it be over?
Worth reading in full.
The MailOnline article has an amusing typo (at time of writing) that I thought I’d share as it expresses I’m sure how most of us feel.