Murdo Fraser says SNP Government is 'placing too much faith' in face masks

Murdo Fraser MSP has raised concerns about the SNP Government “placing too much faith” in face masks following recent incidents of shoppers ignoring social distance guidelines.

The Scottish Conservative politician, who is the Convener of the Covid-19 Committee, asked Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations on July 28, what his view was on people not sticking to the ‘default’ 2-metre social distancing now that wearing face masks is compulsory in shops.

Mr Fraser raised the issue after being contacted by constituents who were alarmed at many shoppers not adhering to the social distancing guidelines since the change was made.

Mr Russell was giving evidence to the Committee and said he was aware of only one person who had received a fixed penalty notice for not wearing a face mask in a shop in Scotland but he said he was not aware of shoppers ignoring social distancing.

Commenting, Mr Fraser, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, said: “Many of my constituents have contacted me to say that they had noticed that large supermarkets, who previously had quite strict rules on social distancing, with, for example one-way systems or restrictions on numbers entering, seem to have relaxed those as a consequence of the compulsory wearing of face masks.

“I have noticed this myself with some shoppers seeming to think they can come as close as they like because they are wearing a face mask. I asked the Cabinet Secretary if the SNP Government is putting too much faith in face masks. 

“The Cabinet Secretary told the Committee that instances of shoppers ignoring social distancing should not take place as it is a matter of public health. However, many of my constituents are concerned by this, as am I, and I feel it is an issue that needs highlighting as there is a danger that some people are taking a more relaxed view on social distancing following the introduction of wearing face masks in shops being made compulsory.”