Most restrictions in England – including Covid passports and mask mandates – are being axed, with reports suggesting plans to sack unvaccinated NHS staff could also be put on hold. In Scotland, however, measures imposed on hospitality venues are only just being lifted today, on Monday, while others – including mask mandates – could stay in place for months, if not years.
Asked on Sunday whether she foresaw masks being worn for “months or years to come”, Ms Sturgeon refused to say no.
Instead, the SNP leader insisted they are “not the biggest handicap”, suggesting an unwillingness to bring measures to an end.
She told the BBC: “I don’t want any of these measures to be in place for any longer than is necessary.
“But masks… are something we can do.
“None of us enjoy wearing them but they are perhaps not the biggest handicap to endure in order to try to stem transmission.
“So while they can make a difference to controlling the virus then I think it is something we should do.”
Daily Sceptic Editor Toby Young said the perpetual nature of Scotland’s mask mandate – which applies on public transport and in most indoor settings – revealed the SNP leader’s “authoritarian” attitude.
He told Express.co.uk: “It’s not surprising that masking in perpetuity appeals to an authoritarian like Sturgeon.”
READ MORE: BBC crisis as two major names RULE OUT replacing Laura Kuenssberg
“Face masks are the sign that the pandemic is not over and she promised not to hold a referendum until it was over.”
Others criticised Ms Sturgeon’s claim that mandated mask-wearing is “not the biggest handicap”, with author and presenter Gillian McKeith branding the rule “draconian” in a post on Twitter.
The benefits – or lack thereof – of mask-wearing has been a contentious issue since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
While the Government later adopted mask mandates, its Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor (now Sir) Chris Whitty told viewers of Sky News in early 2020: “In terms of wearing a mask, our advice is clear: that wearing a mask if you don’t have an infection reduces the risk almost not at all.
“So we do not advise that.”
Ms Sturgeon insists, however, that England is “the outlier” with regards to its latest guidelines: “Not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or many countries around the world.”