Restrictions eased

Vaccine passports axed as Covid rules dropped

Woman shopper looking at masks
Shoppers continue to be advised to wear masks (pic: Terry Murden)

Vaccine passports will be dropped in Scotland at the end of this month and the legal requirement to wear face masks will no longer apply from 21 March.

Anyone entering a shop and passengers on public transport are being advised to continue wearing face coverings, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the removal of legal requirements are part of an effort to “return to a normal way of life”.

She said Scotland will rely instead on “sensible behaviours, adaptions and mitigations” though once again Scotland must wait longer than England to introduce the changes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England’s restrictions will be lifted on Thursday, with the requirement to self-isolate dropped and free mass testing to end in April.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “We would have liked to see a clearer and faster transition to the end of restrictions [in Scotland] and mandatory use of masks, as keeping these for a further month does nothing for rebuilding consumer confidence.”

Ms Sturgeon expressed frustration at Mr Johnson’s approach, calling for clarity about how the testing system – which operates UK-wide – would operate in future and how it would be financed.

The First Minister warned that this “should not be taken as a signal that Covid no longer presents any risk to health”

She said: “Even though certain measures, for example face coverings, may not be legal requirements in future, we will still recommend voluntary compliance as part of the range of behaviours that will help keep us safe as we manage COVID in a more sustainable and less restrictive way.”

Ms Sturgeon said testing would remain a vital part of managing the virus, but that there would be a phased move to a “more targeted system” focusing on high risk settings like care homes and hospitals and rapid detection of new variants.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said:“We hope there will now be a concerted effort to encourage commuters and shoppers back to our town and city centres.

“High streets have suffered enormously from the lack of visitors in the last two years – it will require both financial assistance and a clear upbeat message to rebuild after the hardship of the last two years.”

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