Scotland: Sturgeon and Ross clash over face mask rules
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Nicola Sturgeon announced school pupils will still need to wear face coverings in class though the point where the requirement is dropped may be approaching soon. Douglas Ross questioned why children are still forced to wear masks. He said: “Even though the data is very positive the SNP Government is still insisting on the use of face masks in schools.
“Adults can go to the pub and not wear a face mask, but pupils in the classroom have to.
“What needs to happen for your Government to remove the requirement of face coverings in our classrooms?”
Ms Sturgeon retorted: “I can’t help wondering if Douglas Ross listened to a single word of the statement I had just delivered to Parliament.
“He gets up here and with an air of complacency says, ‘the Covid pandemic is under control’ but the implication is the pandemic is over.”
Mr Ross furiously erupted at Ms Sturgeon as he shouted: “That is not what I said, that it absolutely not what I said.”
Ignoring the rebuttal, Ms Sturgeon continued: “He said, ‘the figures show the virus is under control’ and then accepted he didn’t think the pandemic is over but the air he gives is that that he wants us to think.
“What I narrated here was a situation that because of the measures that have been taken, it is much better than it would have been.”
In response to his face mask question, the First Minister added: “Adults have a choice to go to the pub and mixing with other people.
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“Children don’t have a choice about going to school and mixing with other people and secondly, children are less vaccinated than adults because the vaccination of children was recommended by the JCVI at a much later stage.”
Ms Sturgeon also confirmed Covid restrictions in Scotland are to remain unchanged as she said the “significant fall” in infection levels the country has seen in recent weeks had now “levelled off”.
The First Minister confirmed a meeting of her cabinet earlier on Tuesday had decided that the remaining baseline measures would stay in place “for now”.
And, while she said Scotland “may be close to the time when face coverings no longer need to be worn in the class room”, she added that “we have not yet reached that stage”.
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The issue of wearing face coverings in school will be considered again on February 8, Ms Sturgeon added.
Updating MSPs at Holyrood, the First Minister said: “No-one wants young people to have to wear face coverings in the class room for a moment longer than necessary.
“But given the current uncertainty about infection trends in the immediate future, and the relatively high levels of Covid in the younger age groups, continued caution is prudent at this stage.”
Her comments came as she revealed that 26 cases of the new BA.2 Omicron sub-variant have so far been confirmed in Scotland.
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