Almost all Covid restrictions end in Scotland despite record infections – iNews

Almost all of the remaining Covid legal restrictions in Scotland come to an end on Monday, despite infection levels reaching record highs over the past fortnight.

Businesses such as cafés, bars and restaurants are now no longer required to collect the contact details of their customers in case people later need to be traced by health officials.

Shops and other retailers also no longer need to enforce safety measures such as plastic screens at tills, social distancing in queues or the use of floor markings.

However, wearing a face covering in public places such as in shops and on buses is still a legal requirement, after Nicola Sturgeon decided to delay the removal of the rule.

Guidance on self-isolation also remains in place, although this has never been underpinned by law.

The scrapping of almost all of the remaining Covid restrictions in Scotland comes almost exactly two years to the day since the UK was first put in lockdown on 23 March 2020.

It also coincides with figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that levels of Covid infection in Scotland have hit a record high for two consecutive weeks.

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The number of people estimated to be positive has risen for seven weeks in a row, with 376,300 people likely to have had the virus last week, or one in 14.

The surge in infections prompted Ms Sturgeon to row back on plans to scrap rules on face coverings at the same time as the other restrictions came to an end today.

The latest surge is believed to be being driven by the highly infectious BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, coupled with the fact that people are mixing and travelling more as restrictions end.

Retailers welcomed the scrapping of most of the rules on shops and restaurants, calling for Scots to get out and support their local high streets to help the economic recovery.

“While the use of face coverings remains mandated for a little while longer, there is now a real sense of hope shops can get back to trading arrangements far closer to normality,” said Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale.

“We encourage Scots to get out and visit their favourite shops and retail destinations over the coming weeks, knowing every purchase they make and every item they buy is a local job supported and a high street helped.”

Scottish Labour called for ministers to do more to help high streets by giving out shopping vouchers and launching a public information campaign to entice people back out.

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