Face coverings to become mandatory in shops in Scotland

2 July 2020, 12:53

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Wearing face coverings will become mandatory in shops in Scotland from July 10, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

The Scottish First Minister also announced that the 2m physical distancing rule is to be relaxed for some premises.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Face coverings in shops will be compulsory from the end of next week but please don't wait until then, get into the habit now."

Speaking during the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said as people start to interact more it is "vital we take steps to reduce risks".

On social distancing measures, she said sticking to the two-metre rule has "serious economic implications".

From the end of next week, exceptions would be allowed for specific sectors to operate within a one-metre distance with mitigation measures.

These sectors include hospitality, retail and public transport.

But the general rule in law will be that businesses must take reasonable measures to ensure two-metre distancing is maintained, she said.

Nicola Sturgeon also said the Scottish Government had been considering the issue of face coverings - which are already mandatory on public transport - "for some time now".

Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh she said: "I can confirm today that from the expected start of phase three, which is July 10 next week, wearing face coverings will also be mandatory in shops."

Children under five will be exempt from this rule, she added, along with those with certain medical conditions.

But she said: "For everyone else face coverings will be mandatory."

The First Minister added: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly, it has taken us some time to reach this decision.

"But as we all start to interact more, it is vital we take all reasonable steps to reduce risk and we know that face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission indoors."

Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged that the two metre rule will affect the conomy
Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged that the two metre rule will affect the conomy. Picture: PA

Nicola Sturgeon said the face mask change was also needed in shops "because we usually don't know the people we have been in contact with".

In such circumstances a face covering "provides an additional layer of protection", she added.

The First Minister stressed: "This is a really important way for all of us to protect each other and to display that sense of solidarity that has served the country so well over these last few months".

Her comments came as she confirmed that outdoor hospitality - such as pavement cafes and beer gardens - can open from Monday July 6.

Meanwhile self contained holiday accommodation, such as cottages and lodges, can reopen from tomorrow, July 3.

The Scottish Government is also lifting the guidance advising people not to travel more than five miles for leisure from Friday - although this will not apply to parts of Dumfries and Galloway where there is a cluster of Covid-19 cases.

Ms Sturgeon said these changes were possible because the R number - the average number of people infected by each person with coronavirus - was between 0.6 and 0.8

She also said the number of people who were believed to be infectious with Covid-19 in Scotland had reduced to 1,500 by last Friday

Nicola Sturgeon has been visiting New Look at Ford Kinaird Retail Park in Edinburgh
Nicola Sturgeon has been visiting New Look at Ford Kinaird Retail Park in Edinburgh. Picture: PA

On the issue of physical distancing, Nicola Sturgeon said the two-metre rule would remain the norm - although there could now be some exceptions to it.

She said scientific advice showed that "as the distance between people decreases, the risk of transmitting Covid increases" - with the increase said to be somewhere between twice as much and 10 times as much.

But Ms Sturgeon said the advice also states that as the number of people with the virus falls "there is less chance of any of us coming into contact with someone who has the virus and so absolute risk is lower".

An advisory group set up by the Scottish Government to consider the issue concluded it was "ultimately a matter of policy as to what physical distance is tolerated in different environments".

With that in mind, Ms Sturgeon said: "We will continue to advise that as far as possible you should remain two metres away from people from other households."