Face coverings remain compulsory for another fortnight

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Legal requirements to wear face coverings in hospitality and other public settings will continue until at least early April given the current spike in Covid case numbers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

She said, ““Given current case numbers, and the desirability of getting those back under control quickly, the wearing of face masks will stay in place for at least another two weeks.”

However remaining legal requirements for businesses and service providers to collect customer details for contact tracing, and to have regard to and take reasonable measures set out in Covid guidance, will end as planned on Monday 21 March.

Responding to the First Minister’s statement UKHospitality Scotland’s Executive Director, Leon Thompson, said, “Hospitality businesses will be pleased that the collection of customer details will end as planned next Monday, 21 March.

“However, the extension of the compulsory wearing of face coverings when entering, exiting, and moving around in venues will cause disappointment for many business owners, workers and customers who were looking forward to the end of this most visible of restrictions.

“As well as the symbolic significance of face coverings, they continue to create practical problems for hospitality workers – particularly in relation to communication and providing that welcoming smile that guests missed for too long.

“With no evidence provided today that masks are making a difference in combatting the spread of covid in Scotland, businesses will hope for better news ahead of the Scottish Parliament’s Easter recess.”

The First Minister also confirmed that people without COVID-19 symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests 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.

The First Minister said, “Today marks a further decisive shift away from controlling Covid through legal restrictions, and towards relying instead on advice and guidance. But please remember, especially since case numbers are so high, that this guidance and advice remains important.”

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