The wearing of face masks in shops in Scotland will become compulsory from next week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced as she also confirmed that the two metre rule will be reduced to one in some places.
She said the Scottish Government had been considering the issue of face coverings – which are already mandatory on public transport – “for some time now”.
Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, she said: “I can confirm today that from the expected start of phase three, which is July 10 next week, wearing face coverings will also be mandatory in shops.”
Children under five will be exempt from this rule, she added, along with those with certain medical conditions.
But she said: “For everyone else face coverings will be mandatory.”
The First Minister added: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, it has taken us some time to reach this decision.
“But as we all start to interact more, it is vital we take all reasonable steps to reduce risk and we know that face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission indoors.”
It was also announced that Scotland will fall into step with England and reduce the two metre distancing guidance to one metre plus from today – but only for some sectors.
“By staying at least two metres away from other people, you reduce your chance of people traced as someone’s close contact and being asked to self-isolate,” she said.
However, she added: “Sticking to two metres can have adverse economic implications, for those reasons when we enter phase three we will allow exemptions for some sectors.”
The general rule, in law, will be to make sure two metre distancing is maintained, but that some businesses will be able to go to one metre.
She said these sectors will be allowed to “operate within mitigations” – these will be different for each sector but might include outdoor seating, plastic screens and improved ventilation. She will also insist on clear customer information so if a business decides to operate at less than two metres they should put up signs to make it clear to customers that they are entering a “one metre rule” zone.
In Wales, it has been announced that pubs, restaurants and cafes will be be able to open outdoor area from July 13, but the two metre rule remains for now.
People in Wales are only being advised to wear masks in certain situations.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said the wearing of non-medical face masks on public transport and in other places where social distancing is difficult is “suggested”.
From June 15 it has been compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in England.