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Distance Aware scheme launched for people needing extra space in public

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A new scheme is being rolled out to help those who would prefer a little more space in public places alert others.

Distance Aware will launch on Wednesday, when free badges and lanyards will become available to pick up from libraries across Scotland. Asda will also be handing them out.

The idea is that the yellow and blue symbols will allow the public to identify those who require additional spare or care when out and about.

Distance Aware is a voluntary initiative to support those on the highest risk list and help ease people concerns about mixing with others.

The new scheme comes as the country begins to accept that Covid-19 will become endemic in the future.

Set up by the Bevan Commission, Distance Aware was adopted by the Scottish Government following public research.

“Provides vital reassurance to anyone who chooses to wear a badge or lanyard.”

Research showed that almost three quarters (73%) of people on the highest risk list said they would like to signal to others to give them extra space.

The launch coincides with the lifting of the emergency restrictions imposed before Christmas due to the Omicron variant.

This includes physical distancing in public places such as hospitality and leisure venues and will come in handy when in those places.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We are beginning to adapt to living with Covid-19 but we know that, for some people who have been at higher risk or feel anxious about going out in public, this is a big step.

“This scheme not only provides vital reassurance to anyone who chooses to wear a badge or lanyard but also encourages us all to be more aware and considerate of those around us – as we simply don’t know their circumstances or concerns.

“I hope this will help people feel more confident and comfortable to go about their daily lives. The shield symbol can be worn by anyone.”

Marie Hayes, British Red Cross Scotland’s director of Independent Living and Crisis Response, said: “We fully support the aims of the Distance Aware campaign and will be proud to highlight the scheme to callers contacting our Connecting With You service.

“Many people are experiencing loneliness, and are fearful of going out of their own homes as a result of the pandemic.

“We believe Distance Aware can help overcome this and help them to re-engage with social activities. This could be invaluable in helping to tackle loneliness.”

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