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Will Nicola Sturgeon finally scrap Scotland’s Covid face mask rules?

The first minister eased most remaining virus restrictions two weeks ago but kept mask rules in place due to high case numbers.
The first minister eased most remaining virus restrictions two weeks ago but kept mask rules in place due to high case numbers.

Nicola Sturgeon will give a Covid update on Wednesday as she confirms whether the legal requirement to wear face coverings will end.

The first minister eased most remaining virus restrictions two weeks ago but kept mask rules in place due to high case numbers.

Scotland’s infection rate remains high with more than 2,000 people in hospital after they contracted Covid and thousands testing positive every day.

But vaccines have been continuing to hold up against serious illness with most Covid prevention measures now gone.

Last week’s rule easing saw test and trace requirements scrapped in pubs and restaurants, while businesses no longer have to enforce the government’s Covid passport scheme.

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

Will Covid mask rules end?

In her announcement two weeks ago, Nicola Sturgeon hinted face coverings would only be needed for a short while longer until Covid cases stabilise.

Speaking on Sunday, SNP health secretary Humza Yousaf refused to be drawn on whether masks will finally be abandoned.

But he assured BBC viewers that the Scottish Government would not implement any fresh restrictions.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

He said: “Government at this stage is not considering further restrictions.

“We have an important decision to take on whether we remove the last legal restriction or protected measure and move it into guidance, that is of course the wearing of face coverings.

“That’s a discussion the Cabinet will have.”

While Scots would no longer legally need to wear masks if the rules are changed, individual businesses such as shops and restaurants will still be able to ask customers to wear them.

Rival calls to ease rules

The Scottish Tories have repeatedly urged Nicola Sturgeon to abandon all remaining legal Covid protections.

After the first minister’s announcement two weeks ago, Douglas Ross said Scotland risked becoming “stuck” with virus measures.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said Conservative-run councils won't introduce the Workplace Parking Levy
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

The SNP leader admitted retaining the mask mandate would be “disappointing” for businesses.

All remaining Covid measures – including the requirement to self-isolate if you become infected – have already been scrapped by Boris Johnson in England.

How to watch the briefing

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

We will bring you all the latest online and you can watch the briefing on Holyrood’s live stream.

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

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