Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, has called on the Scottish Government to make wearing face coverings mandatory in enclosed spaces such as shops.
Face coverings are already mandatory on public transport, but wearing them in shops only guidance at the moment. Ms Martin feels that the first week of retail reopening has shown that guidelines aren’t enough. She is urging ministers to take the step of making it mandatory.
Earlier this week Ms Martin and her SNP MSP colleagues posted pictures of themselves wearing coverings in an effort to encourage members of the public to do likewise.
However, images and videos of people queuing to shop in towns and cities across the country with very few shoppers wearing masks has convinced the north east MSP that the government must make wearing them compulsory.
MS Martin has also been canvassing opinion on social media and has been further convinced by the testimony of many older citizens who say they feel frightened to go to out due to the lack of people opting to wear a face covering.
The Aberdeen shire MSP has now written to the First Minister asking that the Scottish Government make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in all enclosed public spaces.
Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said
I have advocated for months the wearing of masks when in enclosed public spaces. Wearing them can drastically reduce the spread of covid-19. It has been shown to work in other countries, and it can work here too – if people would only wear them. So it was concerning to see images of so few people heeding this aspect of advice from the Scottish Government.”
So many people have done so well for so long in taking the steps necessary to suppress this virus. Wearing a face covering is no more inconvenient that washing your hands regularly or remaining physically distanced, yet too many people seem unwilling to take this easy step.”
It is always a last resort to impose restrictions on people, ideally you want to take the public with you without the need for legislation. But this virus is not going away, it is still highly contagious, and wearing a face covering can drastically reduce the chances of it spreading out of control.”
I have been struck by how many people have got in touch with me to say how nervous they are to go outdoors because the majority of people are opting to shop without a face covering. I think this is an issue for our elderly citizens, who are after all at most risk. I also thing we owe it to our shop workers to do what we can to protect them.
We have a chance in Scotland to eliminate the virus, to get to a stage where it can be managed while we live a new normal way of life. But not wearing face coverings makes that prospect hugely more difficult to realise. That’s why I’ve written to the First Minister, and why I hope they take a step I’m sure we hoped they wouldn’t have to.
The First Minister is expected to make an announcement later on Thursday on whether the 2-meter social distancing rule will be relaxed in Scotland in line with changes made south of the border.
Changes that are already in place include
- The five-mile travel distance relaxed from Friday 3 July and the use of most self-catering holiday homes and second homes is also permitted
- From Monday 6 July, pubs with beer gardens can reopen their beer gardens
- 10 July extended groups can meet outside and members of two other households can meet indoors
- 13 July will see shopping centres reopening and dentists can reopen for routine appointments
- On 15 July, pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen with social distancing measures in place. All other holiday accommodation can also reopen along with hairdressers & barbers. Libraries, museums can also open on this day.