Passports, face masks and contact details rules to go

First minister says measures will shift to guidance rather than law, but the threat of future restrictions remains

THE Scottish Government’s COVID passport scheme is to be scrapped from next week, with facemask and contact tracing rules dropped from next month, the first minister has announced.

Setting out the Scottish Government’s new Strategic Framework for COVID-19 in the Scottish Parliament today (22nd February), Nicola Sturgeon announced that, as a result of “widespread vaccination coverage and better treatments” the COVID vaccination scheme will be dropped from Monday 28th February, with facemask and contact detail rules expected to end on 21st March.

Setting the rules in law, said the first minister, “is no longer as necessary as it once was, and given the wider harms caused by protective measures it is no longer as justifiable either”.

In the future, she said, the Scottish Government “will seek to rely much less on legally-imposed measures and more on vaccines, treatments and sensible adaptations and good public health behaviours”.

The updated Strategic Framework (available here) says that moving forward COVID variants will be classed as either low, medium or high threat, depending on their severity and transmissibility, with the possibility of restrictions reimposed depending on the threat level.

At the low threat level, steps such as hybrid working, the wearing of facemasks and improved ventilation are all included in Scottish Government guidance, but are not legally-required.

In the ‘medium’ threat level, the Scottish Government may require face coverings to be worn in indoor public places and on public transport and re-introduce the COVID passport scheme.

At the ‘high’ threat level, there is the possibility of closing “non-essential settings and services” with legal limits on social gatherings and events.

Sturgeon said that the current threat level could be classed as ‘medium’ but, with hospital admissions falling, the Scottish Government would expect it to be reviewed to ‘low’ in the near future.