Ruth Maguire MSP for Cunninghame South, has asked the Scottish Government how a new voluntary scheme Distance Aware, will help constituents, who may be feeling vulnerable, as protective measures, introduced before Christmas, are lifted. 

Under the new scheme free badges and lanyards will be available to people who wish to show others they would welcome additional space and extra care while out in public. 

The Scottish Government joined the scheme set up by the Bevan Commission and adapted it following research which showed that almost three quarters (73%) of people on the Highest Risk List said they would like to signal to others to give them extra space. 

From 26 January, the badges and lanyards with the easily-recognisable shield symbol will be available free from all community and mobile libraries in Scotland. Badges will also be free from Asda stores. They can be ordered from the Scottish Government website for a small postal fee. 

In an exchange with the First Minister, during this week’s Covid-19 Statement, Ruth Maguire SNP MSP for Cunninghame South asked: 

“As restrictions and protections are eased and we begin to adapt to living with Covid-19, this will be an anxious time for some of my constituents, especially those in higher risk groups. Can the First Minister outline how the distance aware scheme might help to provide confidence and support to people who are worried about mixing with others?” 

The First Minister responded: 

That is a really important point, and one that it is vital that we do not just pass over. The majority of us are really keen to get back to as much normality as we can, as quickly as possible. We are desperate to do all of the things that we enjoyed doing before Covid. However, there are some people in our society, particularly those at highest clinical risk, and also many older people, who feel very nervous about getting back to normal and who still worry about the risk that Covid presents. In the spirit of solidarity that has served us well, we have to try to strike the right balance, so that everybody can feel confident about the path that lies ahead. 

The distance aware scheme is a really important initiative in that context. It is voluntary, but it allows us to support anyone who might be a bit more worried about mixing with others or who perhaps just wants a bit more time to adjust to the transition. The badges and lanyards that can be acquired will help people in those circumstances, if all of us respect the wishes of those wearing them. That is one way of helping to ensure that we make the transition back to normality in a way that is as inclusive as possible and recognises the impact on mental health, wellbeing and anxiety levels among many people who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. 

Find details of the Distance Aware scheme at www.gov.scot/distanceaware