Face coverings to remain mandatory in indoor attractions until April

In her latest COVID update to the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Tuesday, 15 March), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the laws on wearing face coverings in Scotland will not now be lifted next week on 21 March, as had been planned. People will be required to continue to wear face masks in indoor public settings – including indoor attractions as well as on public transport – until at least 4 April. Remaining legal requirements, including the requirement for venues to collect contact details for customers in certain settings, with however be lifted on Monday.  

The announcement on the postponement of the lifting of face covering regulations was made against the backdrop of a surge in COVID cases in recent weeks; the latest figures are not far off the peak seen last January. Ms Sturgeon advised that the short extension of the rules is a precautionary move to help us through the current high numbers of cases. She said: “Ensuring continued widespread use of face coverings will provide some additional protection – particularly for the most vulnerable – at a time when the risk of infection is very high, and it may help us get over this spike more quickly.

Ms Sturgeon will make a further statement to the Scottish Parliament in two weeks’ time when, she advised, it is hoped the face mask regulation will be converted to guidance. In the meantime, the public are urged to continue following all advice on hygiene, ventilation, vaccination, and testing (which will remain free in Scotland).
The First Minister also advised that, from 18 April, people without COVID symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests. This development is part of the Test and Protect Transition Plan, which sets out how testing will become more targeted. The changes to Test and Protect mean that, from 18 April:

  • most people without symptoms will no longer be asked to take 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
  • vaccinated close contacts of someone with COVID should continue to test daily for seven days using LFDs
  • until the end of April, people with symptoms should still isolate and get a PCR test
  • PCR tests will still be able to be booked 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.

You can read the First Minister’s full statement here.