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Coronavirus / Scotland to continue with the two metre distance rule while wearing face masks in shops becomes compulsory

FIRST minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to stay vigilant while venturing out a bit more as a result of the five mile rule being lifted as of tomorrow (Friday).

However, following scientific advice, the Scottish Government has decided to continue with the two metre distance rule for the time being. Some small changes to the distance rule will come into force at the end of next week.

In summary here are the main points of her announcement this lunchtime:

  • The Scottish Government’s advice to stick to the two metre rule will not change;
  • However, some exceptions will be allowed from the end of next week where mitigations have been agreed in advance;
  • This mitigation will include the collection of names and contact details of customers to allow contact tracing;
  • Beer gardens and outside dining opening on Monday will initially have to stick to the two metre distance rule;
  • Wearing face masks in shops will become mandatory by the end of next week;
  • As of Friday (3 July) people will be allowed to travel more than five miles for leisure purposes (this does not apply to areas of the southwest of Scotland where authorities are currently dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak);
  • Children who have been shielding since the start of Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions can now have their situation reviewed by their doctor;
  • The all important ‘R’ number is still in the 0.6 to 0.8 range;
  • The government estimates that there are currently around 1,500 in Scotland who could transmit the Covid-19 virus.

Sturgeon said: “The science on physical distancing has not changed. As the distance between people decreases the risk of transmitting Covid increases.

“To quote the advise directly: ‘there is increased risk somewhere between two and ten fold in reducing two metre to one metre’.”

One the mandatory wearing of face coverings, the first minister said: “We have been recommending the use of face coverings for some time now and it is already mandatory on public transport.

“From the expected start of phase three, which is the 10 July, next week, wearing face coverings will also be mandatory in shops. As with public transport there will be some exemptions.

“This is not decision we have taken lightly, and it has taken some time to reach this decision. But as we all start to interact more it is vital that we all take reasonable steps to reduce risk, and we know that face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission indoors.”

Referring the change in the guidance for children who are shielding NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson assured parents that they can have confidence in the guidance developed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Dickson said: “This guidance is supported by the Scottish Government and GPs have been informed that they can review the shielding position of children in their care.

“This will be co-ordinated at a health board level and we expect then that a large majority of children will be reviewed by secondary care colleagues.

“Of course, there will be some who have to stay isolated for their own safety. To these children and your families, I wish you strength during this time. It is very hard, but this will pass and soon everyone will be back at school and playing in the parks again.”

The Scottish Government has also just published an update on its approach to physical distancing which reiterates that Scotland will retain two metres as the default physical distancing requirement for Phase 3 of the lockdown easing. The document can be found here.