Children and young people
The requirement to provide information applies to children (defined as individuals under the age of 16) though adults with a child are required to provide the child’s information. Only unaccompanied children would be required to provide the information in their own right, although we understand from Border Force that in practice, a safeguarding welfare officer is responsible for working with any unaccompanied children.
Children and adults will be required to self-isolate, and liable to offences for failure to do so in their own right. There is an additional provision that, where a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a child has repeatedly contravened the requirement, the constable may direct any individual who has responsibility for the child to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the child complies with that requirement.
Where other legal obligations apply – for example, in relation to shared custody – children may be able to move between households as a result of regulation 9(6)(e) of the Regulations. Regulation 9(6)(e) allows movement outside of the place of self-isolation to fulfil legal obligations.
The self-isolation of students may have some negative impacts on young people, such as international students coming to Scotland to study or on short-term exchange programmes, whether for the first time or as returners. In extreme circumstances, it might discourage international students choosing to study in Scotland, reducing their options.
As students prepare to arrive/return to universities/colleges, this remains a live issue for universities and colleges who are considering how best to support international students. Some universities are encouraging international students to arrive early and have indicated that they will actively support students during their self-isolation period.
This is also expected to impact on international children returning to boarding schools in Scotland. Boarding schools are contingency planning for additional accommodation to supplement dormitories if physical distancing measures need to be in place limiting the number of beds.
It is recognised that the travel and tourism industries have been adversely impacted by these measures. The tourism sector, for example, employs a high share of young workers, with around 40 per cent of the workforce aged between 16 and 24, so young people may have been disproportionately impacted, and this may lead to reduced employment opportunities.
The Scottish Government has a dedicated resource related to advice for businesses, and the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 guidance provides specific information/links in relation to the tourism sector. However, we will continue to take into account evidence of the impacts of the Regulations, and consider how they may affect one or more of the protected characteristics.
Older people are confirmed as having coronavirus at a higher rate than younger people - as at 16 August 2020, people aged 75-84 were confirmed as having coronavirus at a rate of 766 people per 100,000 population, and for those aged 85 and over, the rate was 2,214 people per 100,000 population. This is compared to a rate of 418 people per 100,000 population for people aged 45-64. As of 09 August 2020, more than three quarters (77%) of all deaths involving Covid-19 were of people aged 75 or over. There are a higher ratio of women to men in older age groups, reflecting women’s longer life expectancy. For example, women make up 65% of people aged 85+ in Scotland. Measures that may help limit the spread of coronavirus are designed to positively affect the entire population, but may particularly benefit older individuals.
According to the 2017 Scottish Health Survey, 56% of people aged 75 and over had a limiting long-term condition, and therefore older people – while allowed to leave the house to obtain basic necessities – may find it harder to do so, and may struggle to get an online delivery due to existing pressures, and lower internet use. The situation may be exacerbated for any individuals who cannot rely on the help of neighbours and friends.
Older people are less likely to have internet access and even if they do they are less likely to use it. 36% of households where all adults are over 65 do not have home internet access, with only 57% of those with access using it regularly. 60% of households where all adults are over 80 do not have internet access, with 72% not using it regularly. Only 29% of adults aged 75 and over use a smartphone to access the internet.
Existing mitigating measures are in place which may benefit older people who are self-isolating. The Scottish Government’s Covid-19 guidance provides specific guidance on help for those who are vulnerable or need additional support, and one of the areas the Scottish Government’s national helpline is specifically designed for is those over the age of 70 who may need extra help, including those people who do not have internet access. Furthermore, Ready Scotland’s additional support page provides links to further information for older people, directing people to Age Scotland.
The UK Government (Border Force) are collecting passenger information at the border for people arriving in Scotland. In instance where passengers have not completed their forms, there are tablets and stands in airports to complete the forms. Assistance has been provided by Border Force to help those people – for example, elderly people – who may need additional help.
Summary: Measures that help limit the spread of coronavirus are expected to particularly positively affect older people, protecting their health and helping to advance equality of opportunity. The national helpline may also help to mitigate any negative impacts, and advance equality of opportunity, helping people over the age of 70 who may need extra help, including those who do not have internet access. It may also have a positive effect in fostering good relations between people, as helpline staff may have the opportunity to understand more about the difficulties faced by older people. Provisions in the measures that can allow children to move in between households to fulfil existing legal obligations, in relation to shared custody, may help to advance equality of opportunity.