Covid-19 First Minister update 15th March
Today we had an update from the First Minister on Covid regulations and guidance. Case numbers and numbers of people in hospital with Covid do continue to rise, driven primarily by the new BA.2 Omicron sub-variant. However in accordance with the revised strategic framework, it is expected that the threat posed by Covid will be downgraded from ‘Medium’ to ‘Low’ over the Spring.
The main announcements made today were:
- From Friday 18th March, all remaining Covid-related travel restrictions will be lifted, in line with the rest of the UK.
- From next Monday (21st March), most remaining legal measures will be lifted, including the requirements on businesses to retain customer details and to have regard to Scottish Government guidance on Covid.
- However, given the recent rises in case numbers, the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport and in certain indoor settings will be retained. This will be reviews again in two weeks’ time before the Easter Parliamentary recess, and the expectation is that this will then revert from a legal requirement to guidance in early April.
On testing, the First Minister announced that from mid-April onwards, Scotland will see a transition away from routine, population-wide testing, towards more targeted testing. It is expected that:
- For the next few weeks, there will be no change to testing advice
- However from the 18th April: those without symptoms will no longer be advised to test regularly, except for those working in certain health and care settings
- Until the end of April: people should continue to use lateral flow tests daily for 7 days after being in close contact with someone with Covid, and should take a test before visiting hospital or a care home. For this time the advice will continue to be that if you have symptoms, you should take a PCR test. Contact tracing will also continue until the end of April.
- From the end of April: all routine population-wide testing will end, including for those with symptoms. Contact tracing will also end at this point.
- From 1st May: testing will only be used on a targeted basis to support clinical care/treatment, and to protect higher risk settings, as well as for monitoring purposes
- At any time, whenever the Scottish Government does recommend testing, this will remain free of charge in Scotland.