First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the use of face coverings will become mandatory in shops from July 9 as further lockdown restrictions are eased.

The change in guidance is to coincide with the expected date that Scotland will move into Phase 3 of its exit from lockdown.

Exemptions for young children and people with certain health conditions will apply to the wearing of masks.

The First Minister also announced that while the physical distancing guidelines will generally remain at two metres, it will be reduced to one metre to allow certain industries to reopen, such as pubs and restaurants. These businesses will be asked to display clear signage to indicate that
reduced physical distancing measures are in place.

The final Phase 2 guidelines will allow for outdoor hospitality to resume from July 6 and relaxes the five mile travel limit for leisure travel.

In addition, the updated guidance allows children aged 11 and under to play outdoors, without physical distancing, in groups of up to eight and of no more than two other households.

Children aged 12 to 17 are asked to continue to physically distance but can meet in groups of up to eight outdoors and no more than two other households at a time. There will be no limit placed on the number of groups children can meet with in one day.

Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the update in lockdown restrictions but urged people to be mindful of people with medical exemptions to mask wearing. She said:

“While face coverings are already mandatory on public transport and encouraged while in indoor settings, there are valid medical reasons why some people my not wear them. People with non obvious impairments such as asthma are unable to wear a covering and may feel targeted by the public. As such, the wearing of masks on public transport is not being policed to single people out.

“I would urge everybody to be mindful that a person who is not wearing a mask may not necessarily be ignoring guidelines and to not assume negligence on their part. If you are able to wear a mask, please get into the habit of wearing them while inside shops before the guidance comes into effect and help offer an extra layer of protection to prevent indoor transmission.

“The flexibility being given to the hospitality sector and other businesses to reopen safely with one metre distancing is a welcome development in our economic recovery in accordance with the route map.

“A united effort from people in North Ayrshire and across Scotland has brought us to this point where we are looking at children and young people being able to socialise more freely socialise with their friends. Thank you for continuing to follow the guidelines as we work towards the new normal.”

ScotRail reports that since the wearing of face coverings was made mandatory on Monday 22, June, around 90 per cent of customers have followed the guidance to keep themselves and others safe.

Scot Gov Route Map – https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-scotlands-route-map-indicative-dates-remainder-phase-2-early-phase-3/