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Face coverings to remain legal requirement until April 18

Due to the “very high level of infection” from COVID-19 and the resultant pressures on the NHS, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that the legal requirement to wear a face covering indoors will remain until Monday, April 18.

In setting out the context for this decision, Ms Sturgeon referred to the most recent Office of National Statistics COVID infection survey which found that one in 11 people in Scotland had the virus – the highest level of infection that has been recorded so far in these surveys.

“The volume of people in hospital with COVID is causing very significant pressure for a health service that has been dealing with the pandemic for more than two years now,” she said. “That means we cannot be complacent.”

Despite the high rates of infection, the First Minister found some cause for optimism from the daily data, suggesting that the peak of the current wave has been reached and that the infection rate is perhaps stabilising.

Nevertheless, the legal requirement to wear a face covering will remain for places of worship or for events like weddings or funerals until Monday, April 4.

As of Monday, April 18, it will become guidance, rather than a requirement, to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops and other indoor spaces.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This phased approach strikes, I think, a sensible balance between our desire to remove this one remaining legal measure and the common sense need for continued caution, not least for the sake of the NHS while this wave of infection does subside.”

In addition, for the period until Easter, everyone will continue to be asked to take to lateral flow tests twice a week, and to take a daily test for seven days if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive. People are also being advised to take a test prior to visiting someone who is vulnerable.

If you develop symptoms, you should continue to get a PCR test.

On vaccination, the First Minister said: “The advice to everyone, of course, remains as important as ever – please do take the opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as you are able and make sure you get all doses of vaccine that you are eligible for. This remains the most important thing any of us can do to protect ourselves and others.”