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From Monday, you are no longer legally required to wear a face covering in most indoor spaces.
The legal requirement to wear face coverings in most indoor public spaces and on public transport will become guidance next week.
It is strongly recommended that face coverings continue to be worn where appropriate – including in indoor crowded spaces and on public transport – as members of the public are advised to carry on taking sensible precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Data shows the situation has generally improved but Covid has not gone away with over 5,000 cases a day still being recorded in Scotland.
In a letter to the Presiding Officer and relevant Committee Convenors, Ministers confirmed the remaining legal requirements will be lifted as expected on 18 April.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“In recent weeks we have seen steady progress as we move back to a greater sense of normality and a more sustainable way of managing this virus.
“However our NHS is still under pressure and the most vulnerable members of our society can still benefit from additional measures to protect them from the virus.
“That is why although the use of face coverings will become guidance rather than a legal requirement I strongly recommend members of the public continue wearing face coverings in indoor settings where possible, and particularly when significant numbers of people are present.
“We should also all continue to follow the latest advice on hygiene, ventilation, testing and of course vaccination to protect ourselves and each other.”
It was confirmed earlier this month that people without COVID-19 symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests from 18 April. The change forms part of the Test and Protect Transition Plan, which sets out how testing will become more targeted, with the aim of reducing serious harm from COVID-19.
The changes to Test and Protect mean that from 18 April:
- most people without symptoms will no longer be asked to take COVID-19 tests
- free lateral flow devices (LFDs) for the purposes of twice weekly routine testing will no longer be available for the general population given the changing advice, but will continue to be free for any purpose for which testing continues to be advised – for clinical care, for health and social care workers and for people visiting vulnerable individuals in care homes or hospitals
- until the end of April, people with symptoms should still isolate and get a PCR test
- vaccinated close contacts of someone with COVID-19 should continue to test daily for seven days with LFDs
People who have symptoms of COVID-19 will still be able to book PCR tests in the usual way until 30 April. From that date, test sites will close and people with symptoms will no longer be advised that they need to seek a test. The public health advice for people who feel unwell will be to stay at home until they feel better, to reduce the risk of infecting other people.
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Face coverings in classrooms to be removed in Peterhead Schools and Scotland.
High school pupils and staff will not be required to wear face coverings in classrooms from 28 February, after the schools mid-term break.
Teachers and pupils who wish to continue to wear a face covering in the classroom should be fully supported in doing so.
Face coverings will still be required in communal areas, subject to future review.
Specific mitigations relating to assemblies and transition visits for learners who will start primary or secondary in August 2022, will also be eased as of 28 February.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“In recent weeks I have promised to keep Parliament and school communities updated on mitigations within schools – including the use of face coverings within classrooms.
“I have been clear that we do not want to keep these measures in place for any longer than is necessary, but that we must continue to be led by scientific and expert advice.
“On Tuesday our Advisory Subgroup on Education and Children’s Issues met to discuss a number of issues, including the use of face coverings.
“The group reiterated its previous position that the removal of mitigations in schools should follow a phased approach. It also advised that the next phase could begin after the February half-term break, with the removal of face-coverings in classrooms – for both pupils and staff – on 28 February.
“In arriving at their decision, the Advisory Sub-Group pointed to reducing case rates for secondary-aged pupils, falling hospitalisation rates across all age categories, and the fact that the estimated R rate is below 1 and decreasing. In addition, vaccination rates for young people continue to increase.
“This change represents a further step in allowing our children and young people to return to a more normal school experience after many months of sacrifice.
“We currently expect that face coverings will still be worn outside the classroom, in indoor communal areas of schools, after 28 February. This will be kept under regular review. In addition, anyone who wants to continue wearing a face covering in classrooms will, of course, be supported to do so.”
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools will be updated next week.
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