SCOTLAND is entering a transition towards an endemic phase of Covid-19 as the last remaining legal restrictions are set to ease on Monday, the health secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf said the time was right to lift face mask rules stating that it was the "right decision".

The use of face coverings in certain public spaces is set to become guidance on Easter Monday - as the country continues to record upward of 4000 cases a day. 

Around one in 17 Scots ( 314,800 people) had the virus in the week ending April 9, as infections dropped from 396,800 estimated cases in the previous week. 

Ahead of rules easing, Mr Yousaf said on BBC's The Sunday Show: "I think we can safely say we're exiting the current wave, and it's been pretty relentless over the last four to five months given the emergence of Omicron and the emergence of BA.2. 

"I think we are making the right decision by removing that final, that last, legal requirement but of course replacing it with very strong guidance that says that you should continue to wear a face covering in certain situations indoor spaces at the public transport."

Speaking on changes to free testing, he said: "I think we're just getting to a new phase, aren't we?

"It is a transition towards an endemic phase of the virus so just in the in the way we live with other conditions, other viruses, we're going to have to do the same with Covid." 

While addressing restrictions remaining in Scotland longer than in England he said the Scottish Government had taken a "measured approach".

From Monday, Scots will also no longer be urged to take Covid-19 tests if they do not have symptoms. 

The Scottish Government has previously advised people to take two of the quick tests each week to limit the spread of the virus.

Free lateral flow devices (LFDs) for the purposes of twice weekly routine testing will no longer be available for the general population. 

They will remain free for clinical care, for health and social care workers and for people visiting vulnerable individuals in care homes or hospitals.

Mr Yousaf said the decision over testing was a "difficult one" but added that even just limited testing would cost the Scottish Government between "300 and 350 million" over the course of a whole financial year.

"So it's an expensive program to continue to run but I think we are taking a cautious approach or sensible approach," he said.

However, while Scotland may be returning to pre-pandemic conditions, the health secretary said the recovery of the NHS "is not going to take weeks or months". 

He said: " I think, first and foremost, we've got to be really upfront with people, that while the rest of society undoubtedly will begin to get back to some sort of normality - the recovery of the NHS is not going to take weeks or months it's going to take years.

"It has faced the biggest shock in its almost 74-year existence. 

"I think the way in which we provide care in some essence is going to have to change as well." 

He added that a hybrid model of access to GPS is very likely with video and telephone consultations continuing alongside face-to-face appointments.