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Health expert believes face masks rules should be eased to ‘only recommendation’

Nicola Sturgeon will update parliament on face masks rules at 2pm on Wednesday.
Nicola Sturgeon will update parliament on face masks rules at 2pm on Wednesday.

A Scottish health expert believes dropping the legal requirement to wear face coverings is the “right course of action”.

Nicola Sturgeon will update the Scottish Parliament on the current Covid situation today and potentially give a final verdict on whether face masks will remain a legal obligation.

The first minister eased most virus restrictions two weeks ago – including the Covid passport scheme and the track and trace system in restaurants – but kept mask rules in place due to high case numbers.

Travel curbs have also been relaxed while free virus testing will eventually come to an end later in spring.

While hospital admissions reached yet another national high on Tuesday – with 2,383 people with coronavirus being treated in hospitals, Dr Christine Tait-Burkard is “tentatively optimistic”.

The expert in infection and immunity at Edinburgh University believes Scotland has reached the point where face mask should be recommended, rather than legally enforced.

Face masks to become only ‘a recommendation’?

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, she said: “The discussion today is about removing the legal requirement to wear face masks – basically the power to fine people not wearing face coverings – and I think at this point, that is too big of a force.

“We are tentatively optimistic. We already reached the peak of Covid infection around March 15 and also, the hospital admissions numbers look like they are starting to drop.

“We’ve had probably some of the highest number of people in hospital with Covid in the past six days, but that number has stayed relatively stable, which is a very good sign that we are going down the other side of the hill.

“I think recommendations for people to wear face masks in high risk environments is the right course of action – it doesn’t need that legal enforcement anymore.

“People in Scotland have been pretty good in the past to follow advice, but we see that they are more tired of the restrictions, because the consequences from the disease are less severe and they want to get to some sort of normality.

“I think that is the point – to not forget about it but also to move back to normal life.”

How to watch the briefing?

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make her statement at 2pm in the Scottish Parliament.

The briefing is expected to take about 10 minutes with another 20 minutes for questions.

You can watch it on Holyrood’s live stream or follow all the latest updated on our dedicated Live blog.

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