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Covid: Face mask rules and track and trace to end in Scotland

Mandatory face coverings in public places, track and trace, and Covid passports will all end in Scotland, it has been confirmed.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced major changes to the country’s handling of the pandemic in a new “strategic framework”.

Addressing MSPs, she said the government will no longer rely on legally-imposed measures but instead put faith in vaccines, treatments, and public health guidance.

It means face mask requirements will become guidance on public transport and in indoor settings, such as shops, as of March 21.

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

Meanwhile, the much-maligned Covid passport scheme requiring Scots to prove vaccination status before entering certain venues will be axed as of February 28.

The app will remain active however, and businesses can choose to continue using it to “reassure” customers, Ms Sturgeon said.

Self-isolation still required

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

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

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

“This new framework is an important moment in our recovery. It marks the point in which we move away, hopefully sustainably, from legal restrictions and rely instead on sensible behaviours, adaptations, and mitigations.”

PCRs and lateral flow tests will remain free in Scotland and Sturgeon criticised the UK Government for ending funding for schemes across the country.

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

Testing will become targeted in Scotland.

Testing to continue

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

“All of us have a part to play in ensuring safe and a sustainable recovery.

“I would urge everyone to follow advice on getting vaccinated, testing as regularly as appropriate, wearing face coverings when required or recommended, keeping rooms ventilated, and following hygiene advice.”

“Testing has been and will continue to be a vital part of our management of Covid.

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

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

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

This could mean people are again advised to limit social contact, work from home, and measures could be introduced in high-risk settings.

Covid cases falling

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

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

Boris Johnson has announced all Covid restrictions in England will end on Thursday.

Covid rules end in England

Ms Sturgeon’s announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed all legal restrictions in England are to end.

Mr Johnson cited high vaccination levels and low deaths as the key reasons for the move.

The rules will end on Thursday, when the legal requirement to self-isolate one of the major changes to affect the population.

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