But NHS Grampian is warning Aberdeenshire folk to remain vigilant and is ‘strongly encouraging’ people to continue to wear masks in public places and is also reminding local people that fluid repellent surgical masks will still be in use in hospitals and healthcare buildings, for patients, visitors, and staff alike.
Susan Webb, Director of Public Health, said: “I want to emphasise continued use of face coverings is still strongly recommended on public health grounds.
"There are more than 14,500 people in Grampian who were on the shielding list at the beginning of the pandemic.
"Based on national research, we believe as many as 5,000 of them are still minimising their contact with others.
"Discussions with vulnerable communities have highlighted anxieties about face mask usage by the general population time and again.”
Rosie was among those asked to shield. She said: “I think everyone should continue to wear a face mask where they feel the need and not be judged by others.
"I do think recently as a shielder, I have accepted COVID-19 will potentially always be with us. I would urge the general public to take everyone’s situation into consideration and respect their decisions to wear a mask or still take extra precautions once restrictions are removed.”
Head of Health Intelligence, Jillian Evans, added: “Although there are some signs that COVID-19 infections may be slowing, they are likely to continue at high levels well into the spring period.
"A small proportion of those infected will require hospital admission and over the last few weeks, we, along with all health boards, have seen an increase in the number of people in hospital with COVID-19. This virus is still circulating freely.
"Omicron, as the current dominant variant, may not be leading to serious illness in most cases, but it does still cause disruption to work life, school life, and just life in general. Choosing to wear a face covering is an act of kindness for your local community. My mask protects you; your mask protects me.”