FREE lanyards and badges will be made available to those who would like extra space and care while in public.

The Scottish Government has joined the Distance Aware Scheme, which began in Wales, after research showed three quarters of those on the highest risk list would like space in public.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We are beginning to adapt to living with Covid-19 but we know that, for some people who have been at higher risk or feel anxious about going out in public, this is a big step.

“This scheme not only provides vital reassurance to anyone who chooses to wear a badge or lanyard, but also encourages us all to be more aware and considerate of those around us – as we simply don’t know their circumstances or concerns.

“I hope this will help people feel more confident and comfortable to go about their daily lives. The shield symbol can be worn by anyone.”

The scheme is a voluntary initiative to help those who feel worried about mixing with others as we adapt to the pandemic.

Director of independent living and crisis response for the British Red Cross Marie Hayes said: “We fully support the aims of the Distance Aware campaign and will be proud to highlight the scheme to callers contacting our Connecting With You service.

“Many people are experiencing loneliness, and are fearful of going out of their own homes as a result of the pandemic.

“We believe Distance Aware can help overcome this and help them to re-engage with social activities. This could be invaluable in helping to tackle loneliness.”

The Scottish Government has invested £55,500 in distributing badges and lanyards and promoting the scheme.

Asda senior director for Scotland Brian Boyle said: “We are delighted to work with the Scottish Government to implement this scheme in Scotland. There has been interest in the free Distance Aware badges, particularly from our more vulnerable customers.

“As people become aware of the badge and its meaning, the more effective it will be in helping people to feel safer and less worried when they are out and about.”

The badges and lanyards will be available free from libraries and Asda stores from January 26.