A BORDERS MP has described the decision to keep the rules on wearing face coverings on public transport and in shops until April as “disappointing”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed this week that all other legal measures will be lifted from Monday (March 21) and replaced with “appropriate guidance”.
But she said that continuing to wear masks would be “prudent” due to a spike in cases of COVID-19.
This will be reviewed in two weeks, with the expectation that regulations on face coverings will convert to guidance in early April.
On the decision, Tweeddale MP David Mundell said: “It is disappointing that the currently high levels of COVID in Scotland have led to this decision and it is to be hoped that when this is reviewed in a fortnight’s time, levels have dropped sufficiently for Scottish Ministers to end the requirement to wear face masks in certain settings.”
The Conservative representative for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale added: “Of course, even after the requirement is dropped, I expect many people will continue to choose to wear a face-covering when mixing with others, as a means of potentially reducing the spread of the virus and because it gives them added confidence to use services such as shops and public transport.”
The First Minister said that the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron was now the dominant strain of the virus in Scotland, accounting for more than 80 per cent of cases.
But Ms Sturgeon said that there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness than previous variants, or that it is more effective at evading natural or vaccine immunity.
On the announcement that rules on face masks will remain, Tweeddale MSP Christine Grahame said: “I do appreciate the weariness that many of us feel about COVID restrictions, and that most of us are keen to get back to a more normal way of life – I don’t like wearing a face covering much more than anyone else.
“It is, however, unfortunately true that COVID is still here and, on the advice of clinicians, a short extension to the legal requirement to wear face coverings is a small sacrifice we need to make in the short term.”
The SNP representative for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale added: “Ultimately the Scottish Government is acting in accordance with the clinical advice, there is no advantage to it in prolonging restrictions beyond what’s necessary. I’d also point out that Scotland’s chief medical officer has said that data shows that some older people are beginning to adapt their behaviour by reducing their contacts slightly, while their use of face coverings is also up. But older and disabled people require other people to protect them, which means that those others should be wearing face coverings – it is not necessarily for your own benefit but for the benefit of those around you who may be much more vulnerable, who you may not be able to identify just by sight.
“I do think that a cautious approach at this point in time is probably the right approach, particularly to allow those of us who are more vulnerable to be safer in going about their lives.”