The news that the majority of COVID-19 restrictions will be dropped next month has been described as “the green light” Perth and Kinross businesses “have been waiting for”.
Chief executive of Perthshire Chamber Vicki Unite was speaking after first minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement in Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, adding that vaccine passports will be scrapped from Monday.
From March 21, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor settings and public transport will end, while businesses, places of worship and service providers will no longer be legally required to retain customer contact details or adopt other Scottish Government-advised measures.
A legal requirement for contact tracing will also end on March 21.
People in Perth and Kinross will still be advised to wear masks in shops and on public transport, however.
And Ms Sturgeon added that testing will remain a “vital” part of Scotland’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic.
A plan for a more targeted testing system will be published next month.
In the meantime, the first minister urged the public to continue to make regular use of lateral flow tests.
Chief executive of Perthshire Chamber Vicki Unite hopes the removal of restrictions will see local businesses “move forward with renewed vigour”, having been marred by the measures.
“It is the green light that our businesses have been waiting for – and that we have been asking for – for some time now,” she said.
“The removal of the vaccination certification scheme next week, and the fact that as of March 21 there is no legal requirement to adhere to the government’s measures, hopefully can enable our businesses to move forward with renewed vigor after a desperate period of time.
“Many businesses have been pushed to the brink by a lack of clarity throughout – and no definitive roadmap out of – COVID or indeed a definitive date that they might focus on, so the fact that it is now here is positive.
“Our responsible business owners have, in many instances, gone above and beyond what could reasonably have been expected of them to ensure the safety of staff and customers and I know that this date won’t signal an end to the caution and common sense that they have displayed from day one, but it is certainly welcome.
“The hope for them is that green does now categorically mean ‘go’ and there are no more false starts.”
The announcement comes as six more Perth and Kinross residents sadly died from causes linked to coronavirus last week.
The National Records of Scotland office confirmed the residents passed away during the week beginning February 14.
A total of 350 individuals in the region have now died from effects relating to the virus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
That means at least 42 people have died where COVID-19 has been identified as being involved in the death by a doctor – either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributory cause of death – since the start of 2022.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.