Laws requiring masks to be worn on public transport and in some other settings in Scotland will not be scrapped next week as planned due to the “current spike” in COVID cases, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Coverings will be required in most indoor public settings and will last until at least early April, the first minister announced today.
In February, the Scottish government had announced that the legal requirement for face coverings will become guidance.
Other coronavirus guidelines for businesses and service providers to collect customer details for contact tracing will end as planned on 21 March.
Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that from 18 April people with COVID symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests and people without symptoms will not be required to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests.
Tests will continue to be free in Scotland for clinical care and health and social care workers, as well as those who visit people in care homes and hospitals.
People will be required to isolate and get a PCR test if they show coronavirus symptoms until the end of April, while vaccinated close contacts with someone who tests positive should continue to test daily for seven days.
From 30 April, testing sites will close and people with symptoms will no longer be required to take a test.
New figures showed 38,770 cases of the virus have been confirmed since 12 March.
The number of coronavirus patients in hospital has risen to the highest level for more than a year.
There were 1,996 people in hospital on Monday with recently confirmed COVID, up 191 on the previous day, with 33 in intensive care, up by six.
Sturgeon announces ‘decisive’ shift in curbs
“Today marks a further decisive shift away from controlling COVID through legal restrictions, and towards relying instead on advice and guidance,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“Given current case numbers, and the desirability of getting those back under control quickly, the wearing of face masks will stay in place for at least another two weeks.
“Changes in Test and Protect will be phased between now and the end of April. After Easter – from 18 April – we will stop recommending that people who don’t have symptoms, should test for COVID.
“This change will apply across the population -including in most workplaces and in early years centres, schools, universities and colleges. Then, at the end of April, routine testing will end – even for people who have symptoms.”