Masks to stay at weddings amid claims of 'glaring inconsistencies' in rules over nightclub and school requirements

Guests will have to wear masks during wedding ceremonies, but not at the reception while they are eating, drinking or dancing, new government guidance has revealed.

Masks will stay during wedding ceremonies

The Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance said it had been told by the Scottish Government that guests will still have to wear masks during the wedding, but can remove them for aspects of the event which fall under the same hospitality rules as restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.

Detailed guidance surrounding weddings is still to be published by the government.

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The industry body said: “Masks don’t need to be worn whilst dancing! Or during drinks reception, canapés or drinks at the bar. They do during the ceremony.”

High school pupils are expected to continue wearing masks in class next term.

Meanwhile, critics have blasted the Scottish Government for rules which will see revellers allowed to dance in nightclubs without wearing masks, while teenagers still have to cover their faces in the classroom.

Angry parents have taken to social media to voice their anger, while the Scottish Conservatives have criticised “glaring inconsistencies” over the SNP Government’s Covid rules in schools.

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Calls for date to end mask wearing in Scottish schools

Education spokesman Oliver Mundell MSP said the SNP’s decisions mean Scotland’s schools are at the “back of the queue” for the relaxation of Covid rules and pupils were being treated “unfairly” as “second-class citizens.” He added that pupils would miss out and have their learning disrupted by ongoing Covid restrictions in schools, while the rest of the country is on a faster road back to normality.

While it was confirmed yesterday that people dancing in nightclubs would not have to wear masks, school children of high school age will be required to wear masks for at least the first six weeks of the new term.

Twitter user Brian C asked public health chief Jason Leitch: “My daughter just asked me why she needs to wear a mask in school and in classes but people in a nightclub don't have to? What do I tell her @jasonleitch, what's the science behind this?”

Bernie Spofforth said: “Children in Scotland will be forced to wear masks in school, to protect adults, so they can dance in nightclubs without them. Because they place more value on adults than children. How did we get here? And think that was OK?”

Mr Mundell said: “At the height of the pandemic, there was widespread consensus that schools should come first when Covid rules were relaxed. Now, from the SNP’s latest Covid announcement, it seems that Scotland’s schools have gone to the back of the queue.

“After a year of disrupted learning, young people need a speedy return to normality. They deserve to once again get a normal learning and social experience. Instead, pupils will be wearing face masks in schools and missing out on typical events, long after restrictions have been removed in other settings."

He added: “It’s right that face mask use in hospitality venues and other premises is reviewed and relaxed over time, in line with public health data. What the public can’t stomach are the glaring inconsistencies in many of the SNP Government’s decisions.

“People, especially parents, have been left baffled and frustrated by the lack of consistent logic. How can face mask rules be relaxed in nightclubs while they remain mandatory in schools?”

Margaret Wilson, chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said that she had been contacted by hundreds of parents who questioned the fact that club-goers did not have to wear masks, while school children do.

Ms Wilson, a member of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 recovery group, said: “We have had quite a lot of parents who are concerned get in contact. We knew it was going to be an issue, before the summer break, we were telling officials that parents were asking about why their children have to wear a mask. The reasoning behind it needs to be properly explained to families.”

Jo Bisset, organiser for parent campaign group UFTScotland, called for MSPs who support mask-wearing in school to do the same.

She said: “If MSPs think it is right that children should spend eight hours a day in a mask, then they should do the same. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding surgeries, opening a summer fete, sitting at home tapping away on their parliamentary laptop or even delivering a televised Covid briefing. They must remain masked up all day, every day. If they think this rule is fair on children, then it has to be fair on them too.”

Higher education minister Jamie Hepburn said: “We have been acutely conscious of the need to reduce educational disruption for our children and young people, while maintaining a safe and supportive school environment for staff, children and young people. That is why we have taken the decision to reduce the requirements for U18s who are close contacts to self-isolate, so that they can now end self-isolation subject to a negative PCR test. This is a less restrictive position than for adults, who will need to be fully vaccinated to adopt this approach.

“While we monitor the impacts of this change, we will retain the majority of mitigations in schools for up to six weeks. This approach reflects the unique features of the school environment, which at the start of term will involve large numbers of unvaccinated children and young people coming together with adult staff on a non-discretionary basis. This is very different from many other events and settings, where an increasing proportion of attendees will be vaccinated and can make risk-based decisions on attendance.”

He added: “Our approach is grounded in evidence and draws on the expert advice of the advisory sub-group on education and children’s issues. Mitigations in schools and ELC settings, and in particular the requirement for face coverings in secondary classrooms, will be kept under constant review.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “As we move toward greater normality on 9 August, we must remember the virus has not disappeared and we all have a responsibility to take sensible precautions to help protect ourselves and each other.

“From 9 August, it will remain the case that face coverings must generally be worn indoors in public places. There are exceptions including for the couple getting married during the marriage ceremony. During the wedding reception, face coverings must be worn except for specific circumstances such as whilst eating, drinking and dancing. Clinical and public health advice is clear that face coverings continue to be an effective way of stopping transmission.

“We are currently concluding our engagement with the nightclub sector on guidance to ensure they can safely reopen. It is due to be published tomorrow.”

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