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Coronavirus (COVID-19): highest risk - survey report - July 2021

Results from an online survey conducted by the Scottish Government Shielding Division in July 2021 with people at highest clinical risk from Covid-19.


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We explored how respondents felt about the idea of being offered a small wearable item to indicate that they would prefer people to keep their distance as restrictions, particularly around physical distancing, eased. This was following similar schemes in other parts of the UK. This question was asked in order to better understand user responses and to help inform any future decisions around a voluntary scheme. 73% of respondents (n4508) said they would be interested, 12% would not be interested and 16% were unsure.

The high number of people interested indicates the majority of people were receptive to the idea. However, the reasons people gave for why they were unsure or did not like the idea (n518) included:

  • feeling it would not help or change anything (66%)
  • feeling everyone should be sticking to restrictions even if they are not highest risk (49%)
  • not wanting people to know they are at highest risk (28%)
  • worrying about being discriminated against (28%)

The open text responses from people who were opposed to the idea voiced some strong opinions and concerns about this type of identifier could represent. For example:

“A wristband would be too small and in winter would not be noticeable under clothes… Whatever is decided it needs to be as effective as the vaccines and booster jabs to instil confidence within me.”

“I might as well wear a sign round my neck and ring a bell shouting UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!”

“That is the most patronising idea I have ever heard. Our families have already been ‘othered’ during this crisis. Do you really want to single us out even more?”

The 3279 respondents who felt this might be something they would use, said that they felt a small wearable could helpfully signal to other people:

  • that they are at highest risk (86%)
  • to keep a safe distance from them (85%)
  • to wear a face mask around them (69%)

Open text responses for people who were positive about the idea but wanted to provide more detail about why included:

“I would hope that it would make people think twice about their behaviour around me but I fear that the Covid-sceptics would not notice or choose to ignore a band. I have found that the people who are least likely to keep their distance are also the people who refuse to wear a mask…”

“It could be worn when you feel anxious. In my case an officially branded lanyard would be good for those of us who are public facing for our jobs... “

If people were offered something small to wear, such as a wristband, to indicate that they’d prefer people to keep their distance or wear a mask near them, would they use it?

Yes 73%
No 12%
Don’t know / haven’t decided yet 16%
Response count 4508

What people would expect a small wearable item to indicate to others

Chart showing responses to question asking what people would expect a small wearable item to indicate to others.
To let them know I am at highest risk 86%
To keep a safe distance from me 85%
To wear a face mask around me 69%
To know that I might be a bit more anxious than others 51%
To be extra cautious about washing their hands and surfaces near me 37%
Another reason 1%
I don’t know 0%
Response count 3279

Why people would not want to use a small wearable item to indicate that they would prefer people to keep their distance

Chart showing responses to question asking why people would not want to use a small wearable item to indicate that they would prefer people to keep their distance.
I don’t think it would help or change anything 66%
I think everyone should be sticking to the rules even if they are not highest risk 49%
I don’t want people to know that I am at highest risk 28%
I would worry about being discriminated against 28%
Another reason 6%
No particular reason 2%
I already wear something to signal to people that I am at highest risk 2%
I don’t know 0%
Response count 518

Contact

Email: shielding@gov.scot

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