Scotland to end most Covid restrictions but face masks stay in some settings
Most of the remaining Covid restrictions are to be scrapped in Scotland from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has said, but the legal requirement to wear face coverings in some settings will remain.
The First Minister told MSPS in a virtual sitting of the Scottish Parliament that the country could move beyond Level 0 – the lowest level of a five tier system of restrictions in Scotland – due to the “steady decline in cases” and “the success of vaccination”.
She said most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions – including on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings – would be lifted, allowing large-scale events to take place.
No venues will be legally required to close, she added, allowing nightclubs to reopen.
But she said the legal requirement to wear face masks will remain for “some time to come”.
Contact tracing of positive cases will remain, pubs and restaurants must continue to collect customer details and home working will continue to be advised.
She said her government was considering “very carefully the possible, albeit limited, use of Covid status certification for access to certain higher risk venues in future”.
An app is under development to allow for such certification for those travelling abroad, she said, but it will also allow for vaccine certification domestically.
“I can assure Parliament that we do not underestimate the ethical, equity and human rights issues associated with Covid-status certification and will keep members updated and consulted on our thinking on this issue,” she said.
From Monday, close contacts of those who test positive for Covid will no longer be required to automatically self-isolate for 10 days.
Under the changes announced on Tuesday, a double-vaccinated Scot who has at least two weeks since their last dose, will be able to take a PCR test that would allow them to abandon self-isolation if they test negative.
Young people under the age of 17 will also be able to end self-isolation if they test negative, while those under five years old will be “encouraged” but not required to take a test.
As a result of the changes, blanket self-isolations for whole school classes will no longer be required.
But face masks will have to be worn during lessons by secondary pupils and one-metre social distancing for staff will be retained for at least six weeks once schools reopen after the summer holidays.
Secondary pupils and school staff in Scotland will also be asked to take a lateral flow test before they return.
Ms Sturgeon said: “However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck.
This virus remains a threat – and as we enter winter, it may well pose challenges for us again
“Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is premature.”
She said no one can guarantee that Covid-19 restrictions will not have to be reimposed.
The First Minister told MSPs: “We all hope – I know I certainly do – that the restrictions we lift next Monday will never again have to be reimposed. But no-one can guarantee that.
“This virus remains a threat – and as we enter winter, it may well pose challenges for us again.
“So as we have done throughout, the Government will seek to take whatever action is necessary to keep the country safe.
“But as has also been the case throughout, we all have a part to play in keeping the virus under control.”