Masks must be worn in workplaces and canteens – but not when you’re ‘tying the knot’
People wearing masks make take account of the new guidelines from day.
By Bill Heaney
New regulations on Covid 19 guidelines will exempt a couple from having to wear a face covering during their marriage or civil partnership ceremony, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today.
She added: “That is a small but important change that I hope will be welcomed by anyone who is about to tie the knot.
“However, more significant is that the regulations will bring the rules on wearing face coverings in workplace canteens into line with the rules for restaurants and cafes.
“From tomorrow, everyone in a workplace canteen will have to wear a face covering when they are not seated at a table—for example, if they are queuing, entering or leaving the canteen or going to the bathroom.
“A further change will take effect on Monday, requiring that face coverings be worn in other communal workplace areas, such as corridors.”
She added: “Responsibility for complying with the measures rests with individuals, but I urge employers to take steps in their workplaces to explain and promote the new regulations.
“The new rules are a proportionate additional step that will help employees to keep themselves and their colleagues that bit safer.”
Ms Sturgeon spoke about support for business.
She said: “I made it clear that we would support businesses and workers that were affected by the temporary restrictions that were announced last week.
“In total, we are making £40 million of support available, including a £20 million grant fund that will be administered by local authorities. Details of the application process for that fund have just been, or are just about to be, published on the Scottish Government’s website.”
The FM told MSPs: “Local authority websites will be updated next Tuesday to allow applications to be made, and it will be possible for businesses to apply at any time in the two weeks after that. I encourage all eligible businesses that need support to apply.
“There is, after all, an important principle here: many businesses are being required to take drastic action to help us to tackle Covid, so it is essential that we take significant action to help them to do so.
“Last week, we introduced tough temporary restrictions that affect hospitality in particular. The regulations that gave effect to the temporary restrictions on hospitality are due to expire on 26 October.
“However, it is important to stress—although I believe that everyone already understands this point—that given the on-going challenge of Covid, that will not herald a return to complete normality.
“The restrictions on household gatherings, for example, will remain in place until it is considered safe to ease them.”
She added: “More generally, we intend to replace the temporary restrictions with a new strategic approach to managing the pandemic. Part of that new strategic approach will set out the different tiers, or levels, of intervention and restrictions that might be applied in the future, either locally or across Scotland, depending on how the virus is spreading.
“When we publish the new framework—which will then, of course, be the subject of debate and a decision by Parliament—we will indicate, based on the latest advice from the national incident management team and our clinical advisers, what level of intervention should apply to each part of the country when the temporary restrictions end on 26 October.
“The tiered approach to intervention will clearly be a central part of the new strategic framework. However, I stress that the framework will go beyond that; it will also seek to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of measures that we currently have in place to strengthen our resilience in living with the virus for the period ahead.
“For example, the framework will set out our work to improve compliance with the FACTS advice, with a particular focus on supporting people to self-isolate when they are asked to do so by test and protect teams.
“It will outline the support that we will make available in the future for businesses that are required to close. The framework will describe how we will continue to support people on low incomes, for whom the Covid restrictions can have especially harsh impacts. It will also draw on the conclusions of our on-going review of our testing strategy, and will set out our future projections of testing capacity and the clinical decisions that we have reached on how that capacity can be used most effectively to suppress the virus through the winter months.
“In the week ahead, we intend to share and discuss the provisional content of the strategic framework with other parties. That cross-party engagement will include the offer to party leaders of a detailed briefing session with me, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport [Jeane Freeman] and the Government’s key clinical and technical advisers early next week.
Mike Russell MSP – facilitating discussions about forthcoming framework.
“Mike Russell is also facilitating discussions on how Parliament as a whole can better scrutinise not just the forthcoming framework, but future changes to Covid regulations more generally.”
Ms Sturgeon said that a global pandemic of an infectious virus will often require emergency action and quick legislation – “but we recognise that that imperative must, as we prepare to live with Covid for an extended period, be balanced by the need for robust and, whenever possible, pre-emptive parliamentary scrutiny.
“We therefore intend to work across the chamber, and across wider society, to ensure that we get that balance right in the weeks and months ahead.
“One reason why that is so important is that we are at such a critical and precarious point in our journey through the pandemic. Scotland has already acted first among the nations of the United Kingdom in applying tough restrictions.
“We have done so at a time when our levels of Covid, although far too high for comfort, are actually lower than levels in the other UK nations. I believe and expect that they will make a difference, but although we have put in place tough measures, we cannot rule out having to go further in the future.
For example, the approach to travel that is being adopted by the Welsh Government to mitigate spread of the virus from high to low prevalence areas not just within each of the four UK nations, but where necessary between the four nations, needs to be considered here, too, and is being considered.
“As we consider the issues, plan future steps and, where necessary, take emergency action, we will seek to ensure that Parliament is fully informed and involved in the decisions.”