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Face mask rules in Scotland 2022: when law on face coverings for indoor places ends - what are new rules?

The rule easing comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was reported to police over an apparent breach of Scotland’s Covid face mask law at the weekend

The legal requirement to wear face coverings in indoor settings has been lifted in Scotland.

The final coronavirus restriction in law has now moved into guidance, although the Scottish government is still strongly recommending that people continue to wear face coverings where appropriate as the virus continues to spread.

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The removal of the rule had previously been delayed twice due to record levels of Covid cases and rising hospitalisations.

The legal requirement to wear face coverings in indoor settings in Scotland will end on 18 April (Photo: Getty Images)

The move comes after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was reported to the police after footage showed her apparently in breach of the country’s face mask law while on the council election campaign trail.

A video posted on social media appeared to show her not wearing a mask during a visit to a barber’s in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday (16 April). Police Scotland confirmed it had received a complaint and said it was being assessed.

The SNP said the First Minister was invited into the barbers during an outdoor visit on the street.

A party spokesman said: “Within a few seconds, she realised she hadn’t put her mask back on and immediately put it on.”

When are the face mask rules in Scotland?

From Monday 18 April, people are no longer legally required to wear face masks on public transport and in most indoor public spaces in Scotland.

The rule has now switched to guidance, with the government strongly recommending face coverings be worn where appropriate.

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.”

The laws on face coverings had originally been due to be scrapped on 21 March, but Ms Sturgeon delayed the move until 4 April. This was then further delayed by another two weeks to Easter Monday (18 April). However, the legal requirement to wear face masks at funerals and weddings was lifted as planned on 4 April.

What other changes are being made?

As of 18 April, people without symptoms of coronavirus are no longer being asked to take regular lateral flow tests as part of changes to Scotland’s test and protect system.

Free lateral flow devices (LFDs) for twice weekly routine testing are no longer available for the general population.

However the tests will continue to be free for any purpose for which testing continues to be advised – for clinical care, health and social care workers and for people visiting vulnerable individuals in care homes or hospitals.

Until the end of April, people who have Covid symptoms should still self-isolate and get a PCR test.

From 30 April, test sites will close and people with symptoms will no longer be advised that they need to get 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 others.