Perthshire North’s MSP and deputy first minister, John Swinney says that facemasks could remain mandatory in Scotland through the winter.
He also suggested that masks could become a part of normal life as people decide to keep wearing them. He raised this in an interview on BBC Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’.
Mr Swinney said: “I think we’ll be using them at least through the winter. I think some people will change practise in life, you know, when I’ve travelled in Asia there is a common use of face coverings by individuals which in individuals will use them to protect others, to protect themselves and it becomes part of the cultural activity of particular countries.
“I don’t know if that will happen here, but I think some people will feel safer as a consequence of wearing face coverings, but certainly over winter I would expect face coverings to remain a significant part of our lives.”
As well as considering the role of face masks in the country’s future, Mr Swinney also defended the Scottish Government’s decision to loosen restrictions this week.
He highlighted the role out of the vaccination programme and the warmer weather which has allowed people to exercise, spread out more and become exposed to more vitamin D.
Mr Swinney explained: “I think this is the right judgement and the right moment to act, we’ve seen a sustained fall in the number of cases that we’ve been experiencing of COVID.
“We have very high levels of vaccinations as a consequence of the supremely successful vaccination programme that has been put in place.
“So, we have a significant amount of protection and we’ve got the benefit that we are still in the summer period and there is more of an opportunity for people to be spending their times out of doors.”
“And government has to have a basis, a really solid basis for applying any restrictions, we have to be satisfied that our actions are proportionate because we’re restricting people’s liberty and their freedoms. And we’ve come to the right judgement that this is the right moment to act.
“We have to act with care, we must act with care, but it’s the right moment to relax the restrictions and move beyond level zero given the enormous sacrifices that members of the public have made in the last eighteen months.”
Mr Swinney also praised the young people who’ve attended their local vaccination centres after being invited over the weekend as the roll out of the vaccine through the age groups continue.
He added: “The vaccinations of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds commenced over the weekend, in different parts of the country.
“It was frankly a scene of joy when I noticed some photographs posted last night by NHS Tayside, the local health board for the area I have the privilege to represent, of those young people who’ve presented themselves already.”