Face masks GettyImages-1216050976

Retailers in Scotland have been left “deflated” after being told mandatory face mask restrictions will remain in place for at least another two weeks.

However, industry bosses said they welcomed the lifting of other restrictions announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday.

From next Monday restrictions will be lifted including requirements for social distancing, limits on store numbers and collection of customer details in supermarket cafés.

Mask wearing on public transport and in shops will remain compulsory in Scotland for a further two weeks, into early April.

Sturgeon said she wanted to “ask everyone to be patient for a little while longer on face coverings” and said the spike in Covid cases in Scotland meant it was right to remain cautious.

“There is no doubt retailers will be feeling a little deflated at the news of a recent rise in Covid case numbers which has led the Scottish government to delay the relaxation of all restrictions,” said David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium.

“Scots have now been required to wear face coverings in shops for 612 days, in contrast to other parts of the UK where restrictions have flexed more swiftly in line with the progress of the virus.

“Nonetheless, the direction of travel remains positive with the news the statutory guidance for retailers on mitigations and the requirements to collect customer data in retailers’ cafés, coffee shops and wider hospitality businesses will be ending from Monday. Rightly this new phase of moving beyond restrictions will mean much of the duty to keep shops and colleagues safe falls on businesses themselves, not Covid-related regulations. It will be up to retailers and customers to continue to show consideration and good sense whilst Covid remains a risk.

“When Scotland does finally escape all restrictions, retailers will hope to see support to help town and city centres recover. High streets have suffered enormously from the lack of visitors in the last two years – it will require both financial assistance and a clear upbeat message to rebuild after the hardship of the last two years.”