First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says face masks and other COVID measures will be required ‘for some time’
Facemasks, social distancing and other public health measures will still be required “for some time” after Scotland moves to level zero, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon also said she hopes the plan to move the country to level zero on Monday 19 July will go ahead despite rising COVID case numbers.
But she added that the data would continue to be monitored before a final decision is taken next week.
The outcome of this decision will be announced to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
The government had provided 19 July as an indicative date for easing restrictions to near normal, but concerns about whether this would be possible have risen in recent days at Scotland saw record levels of coronavirus cases.
On Thursday, 2,802 people tested positive for COVID-19, with 401 in hospital with the virus.
Three hospitals have moved to “code black” status as patient numbers reach capacity.
But Sturgeon said the figures over the last few days appear to be “levelling off” and the seven-day average show a slight slowdown in the rise in positive cases.
Responding to the announcement earlier this week that England would seek to remove legal restrictions, including the obligation of wearing a face covering, the First Minister said this decision was “something of an exception”.
She added: “We have to think carefully about the steps we do take at this juncture. My job is not to take the easy decisions… It’s to do what I think it most likely to keep the country as safe as possible.”
While unable to announce a firm decision about easing restrictions yet, Sturgeon said it would be “possible to proceed with some planned changes but hold back on others”.
And she said that even as restrictions ease, other public health measures like social distancing, regular handwashing and facemasks will still be necessary.
Sturgeon said: “COVID is still with us, it is still present across the globe and it’s going to be around for some time to come. It is important to remind all of us that a move to level 0 does not mean an immediately end to all restrictions.”