The legal requirement to wear face coverings in Scotland in most indoor public spaces and on public transport will become guidance next week, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Data shows the situation has generally improved but Covid has not gone away with over 5,000 cases a day still being recorded in Scotland.

In a letter to the Presiding Officer and relevant Committee Convenors, Ministers confirmed the remaining legal requirements will be lifted as expected on 18 April.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

HeraldScotland: In Stock High Quality Disposable Non Woven Ear-loop 3-ply Face Mask

Face coverings have been required in indoor public spaces in Scotland such as in shops and hospitality venues and on public transport throughout the pandemic.

From Monday, April 18 the legal requirement to wear face coverings is set to become guidance.

While it will no longer be legally required to wear a face covering in shops, hospitality venues, and public transport, the Scottish Government will still strongly recommend that face coverings continue to be worn where appropriate as members of the public are advised to carry on taking sensible precautions to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

What changes are being made to Covid testing?

HeraldScotland: Coronavirus lateral flow test

It was confirmed earlier this month that people without Covid-19 symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests from April 18. 

The changes to Test and Protect mean that from 18 April most people without symptoms will no longer be asked to take Covid tests.

Free lateral flow devices for the purposes of twice weekly routine testing will no longer be available for the general population given the changing advice, but will continue to be free for any purpose for which testing continues to be advised – for clinical care, for health and social care workers and for people visiting vulnerable individuals in care homes or hospitals.

Until the end of April, people with symptoms should still isolate and get a PCR test.

Vaccinated close contacts of someone with COVID-19 should continue to test daily for seven days with LFDs.

People who have symptoms of coronavirus will still be able to book PCR tests in the usual way until April 30. 

From that date, test sites will close and people with symptoms will no longer be advised that they need to seek a test. 

The public health advice for people who feel unwell will be to stay at home until they feel better, to reduce the risk of infecting other people.

What has Nicola Sturgeon said about the changes?

HeraldScotland: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arriving to give an update on Covid restrictions in the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 8, 2020. See PA story SCOTLAND Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In recent weeks we have seen steady progress as we move back to a greater sense of normality and a more sustainable way of managing this virus.

“However our NHS is still under pressure and the most vulnerable members of our society can still benefit from additional measures to protect them from the virus.

“That is why although the use of face coverings will become guidance rather than a legal requirement I strongly recommend members of the public continue wearing face coverings in indoor settings where possible, and particularly when significant numbers of people are present.

“We should also all continue to follow the latest advice on hygiene, ventilation, testing and of course vaccination to protect ourselves and each other.”