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by Louise Wilson
14 March 2022
Don’t U-turn on lifting of Covid laws, FM told

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Don’t U-turn on lifting of Covid laws, FM told

The First Minister must not delay plans to remove the final coronavirus restrictions next week, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Tory health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane said a move to living with Covid must mean a “focus on personal responsibility” instead of legal obligations.

Nicola Sturgeon announced last month that wearing facemasks in shops and on public transport would no longer be mandatory from Monday 21 March “assuming that there are no significant adverse developments”.

She also said other legal requirements covering businesses, places of worship and hospitality would be lifted.

However, case numbers have started to increase in Scotland recently, with over 13,000 new cases reported on Friday.

But Gulhane said this rise was “short term” as a result of other restrictions easing.

He said: “Businesses in Scotland have suffered hugely over the last two years – not least with the First Minister’s severe restrictions imposed in the wake of the Omicron wave – and they, and the Scottish public, deserve a return to normality.

“The Scottish people have acted with common sense throughout the pandemic and the public health strategy from now on must focus on personal responsibility, rather than government-imposed blanket restrictions.”

Sturgeon is set to make a statement to parliament tomorrow afternoon confirming the next steps.

The ONS infection survey estimated that between 28 February to 6 March, one in 18 people in Scotland had Covid.

This was higher than the estimate for England and Wales, though lower than Northern Ireland.

All Covid restrictions have now been removed south of the border, with access to free Covid tests to end at the start of next month.

Sturgeon has previously said testing will remain free in Scotland, though her government plans to wind down the Test and Protect programme.

Scottish Labour has called for Test and Protest to continue to ensure the NHS is not overburdened.

Last week, three hospitals in North Lanarkshire reached capacity.

Deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP government must do the right thing and ensure Scotland’s NHS is properly supported as we emerge from restrictions. 

“Failure to support our NHS risks a public health perfect storm – the SNP must act now.” 

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