Covid Scotland: Criticism of face mask extension branded 'disrespectful' to health and care workers

Criticism of the continued requirement to wear face coverings in Scotland is “disrespectful” to health and social care workers, a leading industry figure has said.

It comes amid warnings that many clinically vulnerable Scots will be forced to return to shielding after the end to free lateral flow testing in May.

It is “absolutely crucial” those who were clinically vulnerable continue to have access to testing beyond that date, blood cancer charity Myeloma UK said.

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Donald Macaskill, chief executive of independent care body Scottish Care, said negative comments from business and political figures showed a “short-sighted lack of priority”.

Criticism of the continued face mark rule is "shortsighted", said Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care.Criticism of the continued face mark rule is "shortsighted", said Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care.
Criticism of the continued face mark rule is "shortsighted", said Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon announced the legal requirement to wear face coverings in public places will not be lifted from Monday, as previously planned, but will continue for at least another two weeks.

This move was met with outcry from some business figures. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce accused Ms Sturgeon of putting Scotland’s economic recovery into “reverse gear”, while the Scottish Conservatives called the move a “U-turn” and said Scotland “cannot stay stuck with Covid rules forever”.

Mr Macaskill said: “The critique of a few in some business and political quarters around the need for continued precautionary use of masks is disrespectful of those working in health and care and those especially at risk of high transmission, in particular the old.”

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Vulnerable Scots have criticised the Government for plans to scrap free asymptomatic testing from May 1.

Jo Nove, acting chief executive of Myeloma UK, said: "From May 1, daily tasks such as travelling to work on public transport, or going shopping, will become extremely unsettling for myeloma patients, who will no longer have the safety net of being able to take a free test.  This will have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing.

“Without access to free asymptomatic testing, many will feel they have little choice but to return to some form of shielding and will be forced to limit their contact with others.

“Meanwhile, their friends and family members will have to carry the burden that they could be exposing them to Covid-19, because they cannot afford to pay for a test.

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“Staying safe from Covid-19 should not be dependent on the ability to pay. Clinically vulnerable people must be able to continue to live their lives safely.”  

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