Rules for face masks, Covid passports and contact tracing will end in Scotland

Mandatory face coverings in indoor public places, tracking and tracing and Covid passports will all end in Scotland, it has been confirmed.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon announced major changes to the country’s handling of the pandemic under a new “strategic framework”.

Speaking to MSPs, she said the government would no longer rely on measures imposed by law, but would instead rely on vaccines, treatments and public health advice.

Face masks are no longer a legal requirement

This means that the wearing of face masks will become a guideline on public transport and in indoor environments, such as shops and places of worship, from Monday March 21.

The requirement for businesses such as pubs and restaurants to record details via track and trace will also end on March 21.

Meanwhile, the much-maligned Covid passport system requiring Scots to prove their vaccination status before entering certain places will be scrapped from Monday February 28.

Ms Sturgeon, however, said Scottish residents will have to continue to self-isolate if they have or suspect they have Covid.

This means that payments for self-isolation support will continue for the time being.

Face masks will no longer be compulsory on trains.

She said: “Covid is unfortunately still with us and so we must remain vigilant and prepared for the threat it poses.

“This new framework is an important moment in our recovery. This marks the point where we are moving away, hopefully in a sustainable way, from legal restrictions and relying instead on reasonable behaviors, adaptations and mitigations.

What are the major changes?

  • Face masks will become advice from March 21
  • Track and trace until March 21
  • Covid passport removed from Monday 28 February

Attempts to continue

The country will now follow the new framework during any future spike in Covid cases caused by new variants, across low, medium and high threat levels.

PCRs and lateral flow tests will remain free in Scotland and Sturgeon has criticized the UK government for ending funding for these programs across the country.

Ms Sturgeon added: “The return to normality must go hand in hand with a continued determination to look after each other.

“We all have a role to play in ensuring a safe and sustainable recovery.

“I urge everyone to follow advice to get vaccinated, get tested as regularly as needed, wear a face covering if needed or recommended, keep rooms ventilated and follow hygiene advice.”

“Testing has been and will continue to be an essential part of our management of Covid.

“It is reasonable, over time and barring adverse developments, to move away from population-wide mass asymptomatic testing towards a more targeted system.”

Testing will become targeted in Scotland.

She said this system would involve surveillance, rapid detection and response to new variants, managing outbreaks in high-risk areas such as hospitals and care homes, and ensuring access to treatment. .

Ms Sturgeon warned that if a new variant appeared to be more transmissible and more severe, the threat level would likely be deemed high.

This could mean people are again asked to limit social contact and working from home while safety measures could be introduced in high-risk environments.

Covid cases plummet

The number of Covid-19 cases has been falling in Scotland since early January with 6,427 new cases reported on February 22.

There are also just 12 people in intensive care with Covid-19 in Scotland, down from a peak of 208 in April 2020.

End of Covid rules in England

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all legal restrictions in England introduced due to Covid-19 were to end.

Mr Johnson cited high vaccination levels and low deaths as the main reasons for the decision.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  prepares for Sue Gray's report.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that all restrictions will end in England.

The rules will change on Thursday, with the end of the legal obligation to self-isolate, one of the major aspects affecting the population.

People will instead be advised to stay home if they have tested positive for Covid-19, or think they may have the virus.

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[Face mask rules, Covid passports, and contact tracing to end in Scotland]