FACE coverings could become mandatory by law in workplaces and schools across Scotland, with the First Minister not ruling out the idea.

Nicola Sturgeon told her coronavirus briefing yesterday that it was “under review”, as the Scottish Government attempt to strike the right balance between “being as normal as possible” and the learning experience for young people.

It comes after a number of confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in pupils across the country – with classes and even whole schools having to self-isolate.

Stirling News: Face coverings could become mandatory in secondary schoolsFace coverings could become mandatory in secondary schools

A public health expert has since said that the mandatory wearing of masks in workplaces and secondary schools should be considered to keep them open.

Coverings are compulsory in many indoor settings including shops, on public transport and in places such as cinemas, galleries, museums, libraries and banks.

Professor Linda Bauld said they could be considered in other settings if levels of coronavirus go up.

What did she say?

Asked in an interview on BBC Radio Scotland whether introducing face coverings in workplaces should be considered to allow more people to get back to work, she said: “I don’t think we should rule it out.

"I think if cases go up and we need particular settings to reopen that can’t, for whatever reason, face coverings indoors absolutely, but at the moment those sectors that can work from home – that’s the message that I agree with – should continue to do that.”

Prof Bauld, who is professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said the virus is at a “very low level in terms of where we are in Scotland” and that while it is circulating it is localised in terms of the rise in cases.

Stirling News: Face coverings are already mandatory in some situationsFace coverings are already mandatory in some situations

She said the best way to protect schools is to keep virus levels low, but that face coverings could be considered for secondary school pupils to avoid having to pause education.

Prof Bauld said: “In terms of the cases that we’re hearing about in school pupils, these are not cases that are occurring because pupils are catching the virus in the school setting, they are cases that are arising in the community, and when we have the virus circulating in the community even at low levels we know that children and young people may get it and then therefore if they go into the school they are still carrying it.”

She added: “I think if we wanted to talk about, for example, face coverings for secondary school pupils rather than closing a school, that’s another step we might want to discuss, that’s being discussed in other places, but we don’t need it at the moment.

"We just have to think about what are the alternatives to having to pause education again because we’re all trying to avoid that.”

What did the First Minister say?

During her daily briefing yesterday, the First Minister addressed the concerns over cases in pupils – as well as responding to images of crowded hallways and playgrounds.

Ms Sturgeon said the introduction of face masks in schools would not be ruled out.

She said: "When we see anything like that, directors of education in relevant councils will be contacted to make sure they are applying all of the right guidance.

"We will keep all of this under review, and that includes face coverings, so that we are striking the right balance between as normal as possible in what is still an abnormal situation and learning experience for young people, but with the right mitigations in place."