Facemasks in Public Places

When omicron first appeared at the end of last year there was a great deal of uncertainty about its possible impact. It was therefore necessary to introduce some new measures at that time to protect individuals and the economy from any potential harms. 

While some restrictions were required at that time to combat the spread of the virus, it is clear that any measures can also cause other harms and it is therefore vital that any measures taken are proportional and are limited to what is strictly necessary.

The data that has emerged since the arrival of the omicron variant has been far more positive than was first feared, and that is why we called for the Scottish Government to lift most of the restrictions still in place by the beginning of February. I am pleased to note that in many instances the Scottish Government have heeded our calls and a number of the restrictions still in place will soon be removed.

I recognise that the issue of wearing facemasks in public can provoke strong feelings, and that there are many people who would prefer that they were no longer mandatory. It is our belief, however, that given the fact the virus is still in circulation in Scotland in relatively high numbers, the continued use of facemasks is a reasonable and proportionate measure to ask people to take for the time being in order to keep themselves and other members of the public safe.