The Scottish Government had acted more cautiously than the UK government in Westminster so far, but now some rules will be lifted, despite rising Covid cases across the country, with the average new daily cases now just over 12,000, up from an average of 6,900 cases a day three weeks ago.
What did Nicola Sturgeon say today?
The First Minister gave an update on the latest Covid and vaccine data in Scotland today and announced continued move from rules to guidance in Scotland.
From March 21st, businesses will no longer be legally required to take steps to reduce the spread of Covid, including retaining customers' contact details.
All Covid travel rules will also be lifted.
It was also expected that from March 21st, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in shops, hospitality venues, and public transport will be downgraded to only guidance.
However, Ms Sturgeon has stated that face coverings should still be worn on public transport and in some indoor locations for a short period of time. This will be up for review again in two weeks.
“I know this will be disappointing for businesses and service providers such as day care services,” said the First Minister. “However, ensuring continued widespread use of face coverings will provide some additional protection - particularly for the most vulnerable - at a time when the risk of infection is very high, and it may help us get over this spike more quickly.
Ms Sturgeon also went on to state that there would be no changes to Scottish testing guidance until Easter, with a transition to no testing for those without symptoms expected at the end of April.
Contact tracing and public test centres will also close at the end of April, but the First Minister emphasised that free tests will still be available in Scotland.
What are the new Covid rules in Scotland?
As a result, the new Covid rules are that face coverings should continue to be worn on public transport and in some indoor places.
For those without symptoms, you should continue to use a lateral flow test twice weekly, daily for seven days if a close contact of a positive case or visiting vulnerable people.
For those with symptoms, you should continue to get a PCR test. This testing advice will end at the end of April.
The First Minister emphasises the continued importance of vaccinations and booster doses and stated that the government maintain the right to re-introduce travel restrictions if necessary.
"Today marks steady progress back to normal life and a more sustainable way of managing this virus,” Ms Sturgeon said as she closed her address. “However, while cases are spiking, there is still considerable pressure on the NHS and concern amongst the most vulnerable in particular.
“So I ask everyone to be patient for a little while longer on face coverings and to continue following all advice on hygiene, ventilation, testing and, of course, vaccination.”