The use of face masks or other coverings will become mandatory in shops in Scotland from July 9 as part of the country’s easing of lockdown restrictions.

While non-essential retail shops reopened at the end of June, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said today that some form of face covering would become mandatory for customers from July 9. 

Sturgeon also said the two-metre physical distancing rule would be eased for some premises as Scotland looks to reopen pubs, bars and restaurants from July 15. 

From July 4, pubs and restaurants in England are allowed to reopen with a “one-metre-plus” social distancing guideline in place, but Scotland’s first minister and the Scottish National Party have chosen to be more cautious in its reopening strategy. 

Face coverings are currently mandatory only for people on public transport in Scotland and the rest of the UK, but Sturgeon said they should be used in stores to “help reduce the risk of transmission [of coronavirus] indoors” and “provide an additional layer of protection” for customers and staff.  

“We have proceeded for a period with a voluntary approach to this,” she said. “Some people are complying and some are not. I’m not pointing fingers or trying to blame people for that but we have to make a judgement if we’re heading into a period where more people are interacting.

“We’ve been having a discussion with more sectors like retail about reducing distancing and that increases the importance of mitigations like face coverings.” 

While the Confederation of British Industry Scotland has welcomed the announcement, the Scottish Grocers Federation said it was “extremely disappointed” by the move to make face masks mandatory, claiming it would increase pressure on staff to enforce the measure. 

However, according to the BBC, Sturgeon said it would not fall to shop staff to enforce the rule, instead suggesting that police would be mandated to issue fixed penalty notices to customers not observing the rules.