Covid Scotland: Mask law will lift from Monday, Scottish Government confirms, amid signs Scotland is exiting wave
Humza Yousaf has said indicators are “positive” that Scotland is exiting the current coronavirus wave but warned that it will not be the last the country will have to deal with.
The Health Secretary was speaking as it was confirmed the legal requirement to wear face coverings in most indoor public spaces and on public transport will become guidance next week.
When asked if Scotland is heading in the right direction in managing Covid, Mr Yousaf said that “being honest, and being frank, this is not the last wave we are going to have to deal with”.
“I think there could be other waves, certainly that my public health experts tell me, that we’ll have to deal with in the course of this pandemic,” he added.
The Scottish Government is set to change its rules on face coverings from Monday.
Asked if there is cause for concern over the risk of rising cases once the change is in place, the Health Secretary said: “The decision to move from legal requirement to public health guidance is just that.
The government’s strong public health guidance will still be for people to wear face coverings in particular settings.
“I’ll still be wearing face coverings in particular settings, and we’ll be encouraging other people to do similar.”
Schools across Scotland are currently on holiday for the Easter break, but the Health Secretary underlined an importance for students who are eligible for the vaccine to get it in order to protect their peers upon the return to classes.
Scotland has recorded 28 coronavirus-linked deaths and 5,513 cases in the past 24 hours, according to latest figures.
It means the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 has risen to 11,734.
The number of cases in the figures published on Wednesday is up from 4,958 the previous day.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) data on Wednesday showed that 2,110 people were in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, down 10 on the previous day, with 23 in intensive care, no change.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed the recommendation for members of the public to continue wearing face coverings where possible.
Ms 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.”
Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Sue Webber said: “This is welcome news – but it ought to have happened several weeks ago.
“The SNP government have been far too slow to trust the public to use their judgment on wearing face masks, having twice U-turned on lifting the blanket curb before.”
Hospitality chiefs welcomed the news.
Colin Wilkinson, Scottish Licensed Trade Association managing director, said that the decision was “not before time and long overdue” and hoped that “licensed hospitality in Scotland can now really start to get back to business”.