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No ‘legal obligation’ for Scottish car retailers to wear face masks

Sandy Burgess SMTA chief executive

The Scottish Government has confirmed legislation dictating there is “no legal obligation” for car retailers to wear face coverings will remain in place despite changes coming into force from tomorrow.

In a letter responding to enquiries from the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) Keir McDonald, from the Directorate for Economic Development, confirmed that retail staff would not be obliged to wear a mask where two-metre social distancing or Perspex partitions could be implemented.

McDonald revealed that this week’s regulation changes determined that “face shields” are no longer considered as a “face covering” by the Scottish Government, however.

SMTA chief executive said in his correspondence to the Scottish Government that he was hopeful of informing members that trading could return to “business as usual”.

While changes to legislation North of the border, which come in to force from tomorrow, return some level of normality, retailers still need to observe strict distancing guidelines, however.

Clarifying Scottish COVID-19 policies for retail personal protective equipment, McDonald wrote: “From a public health perspective the only relevant change is that face shields are no longer considered to meet the definition of a ‘face covering’ in the context of the legal obligation to wear one.

“The decision to exclude face shields is based on emerging clinical advice which indicates that used alone, they do not provide adequate protection against transmission.”

He added: “Staff in retail settings remain exempt from wearing a face covering - i.e. there is no legal obligation to wear one – provided (two metre) physical distance is maintained or if a partition is in place, though as before we do recommend that a mask be worn even if there is no legal obligation to do so because conditions for exemption are met.

“At its core, the immediate and main implication of this announcement on your colleagues is that, if a colleague in a retail setting is wearing a face shield to fulfil their legal obligation for a face covering, they must substitute it for or supplement it with a face-covering.”

Car retailers keen to read-through the updated Scottish Government guidelines can do so at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-staying-safe-and-protecting-others/pages/face-coverings/

Earlier this year the SMTA criticised the Scottish Government's delay to allow car showrooms to re-open after England's retailers got back to business on June 1.

Burgess (below) said he feared that the politics of COVID-19 North of the border will cost car dealers financially and result in disproportionate job losses across the UK's devolved regions.

“We have been left in a political situation and that shouldn’t be the case,” he  said. “This is a health crisis first and foremost, then an economic crisis. The last thing COVID needs to be turned into is a political crisis.”

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