THE SCOTTISH Government has confirmed that pupils will not be legally required to wear face coverings in communal areas when schools head back after the Easter break. 

It follows confusion over next week’s change in rules, with many schools and councils reportedly telling parents and students that masks would remain mandatory when moving between classes and in some indoor settings. 

However, the government confirmed today that from Monday all legislation over face coverings will be replaced by guidance, including in schools.

Instead, Scots will be “strongly recommended” to wear a mask in shops or on public transport, or in busy indoor settings.

Plans to initially relax the regulations at the start of the month were delayed after high levels of infection were recorded. 

At the time, Nicola Sturgeon said mandatory mask rules would have to stay in place until the country had passed the peak of the most recent wave.

However, on Wednesday, the First Minister said there had been “steady progress” in tackling the stubbornly high rates.

She said the ending of the legal requirement to keep faces covered was part of 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,” Ms Sturgeon warned.

“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.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Public Health Minister Sue Webber welcomed the confirmation but said it “ought to have happened several weeks ago.”

“The SNP Government have been far too slow to trust the public to use their judgement on wearing facemasks, having twice U-turned on lifting the blanket curb before. This was frustrating for many people and damaging for businesses.

“I’m pleased to hear that the ending of the mandatory restriction on Monday extends to communal school areas too, because the First Minister and her spokesperson had left parents, pupils, teachers and councils confused because of their contradictory messaging.

“Scotland’s schoolkids have suffered horrendously over the last two years and they – like the rest of the country – need some kind of normality restored to their lives, as we all learn to live with the virus.”