The Regulations are designed to reduce the public health risks posed by coronavirus by limiting the further spread of the disease, and are therefore designed to prevent harm to individuals in Scotland.
The Impact Assessment has identified some potential positive impacts on one or more of the protected characteristics. Limiting the spread of coronavirus is designed to positively affect the whole population, but may particularly affect the health of those people who are more severely affected by the disease.
This includes older people (age) and those with underlying health conditions (some disabled people are more likely to experience severe ill-health from contracting Covid-19 than the general population). There have been slightly more deaths among women than men involving Covid-19, although age-standardised death rates are higher for men. Covid-19 was a relatively more common cause of death for people in the South Asian ethnic group, compared to people in the white ethnic group. These impacts will be explored further in this impact assessment.
However, the Scottish Government has recognised that there may be some potential indirect and disproportionate negative impacts on one or more of the protected characteristics. These are set out and explored further in this impact assessment.
Whilst the view of the Scottish Government is that these Regulations are justified and a proportionate means of reducing the public health risks posed by coronavirus by limiting the spread of the disease, it is also clear that there is also a need to mitigate those negative effects and to promote equality as part of our wider responsibilities under the general duty.
Where any potential negative impacts have been identified, we have sought to mitigate these – for example, by provisions in the Regulations, or by current support and guidance available. Furthermore, during this impact assessment process the importance of accessible communication was highlighted, and this was also something that was raised by Disabled People’s Organisations. As a result of this process, we have translated the public health checks at borders guidance into Easy Read. Whilst this provision is designed to eliminate discrimination, it is also designed to promote equality and to foster good relations between people by ensuring access to information for people who have a distinct communication need and those who do not.
Insofar as these actions to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations may not be able to mitigate all of the potential impacts, the Scottish Government currently considers the potential impacts justified, and a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of reducing the public health risks posed by coronavirus, and the prevention of harm to individuals living in Scotland.
However, the Regulations also contain two safeguards as outlined above in relation to the requirement for frequent review and their time-limited nature. As part of keeping these Regulations under review, evidence on their impacts and how they are operating will help inform our evidence base, and will also help to inform any changes required as to the way they operate, to meet the needs of people with one or more of the protected characteristics.
The Scottish Government will keep all mitigating actions, and positive and negative impacts, under review. This impact assessment is a living document and as such we will also continue to consider and use any newly identified evidence, as it relates to each of the protected characteristics. We will make further adjustments, as appropriate, as we wish to ensure that equality and human rights are central to this process.
Current actions, which will be explored in more detail below, include:
- Provisions in the measures which allow individuals to leave the place they are self-isolating for certain reasons, such as to obtain basic necessities, to seek medical assistance and to access public services.
- The public health checks at the borders guidance (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-health-checks-at-borders/ ) refers to:
- The Scottish Government’s Covid-19 webpage, which provides guidance/links in relation to topics such as: help if you are vulnerable or need additional support; support if you are feeling anxious or depressed; domestic abuse support; information for older people; and guidance for households (referred to below as the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 guidance)
- The Scottish Government’s existing national helpline (also available to textphone users), which provides essential assistance to those who do not have a network of support. Groups the helpline is particularly focused on includes disabled people, older people, and those who are pregnant.
- Ready Scotland’s ‘where to find additional support’ page, which provides links to additional guidance on an array of topics (referred to below as Ready Scotland’s additional support page)
The currently identified impacts on each of the protected characteristics, including how the Scottish Government has sought to mitigate these, are explored in more detail below.