Coronavirus (COVID-19) Adaptations Expert Advisory Group minutes: 3 November 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 3 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Professor Tim Sharpe, University of Strathclyde


  • Victoria Sanderson, Health and Safety Executive
  • Dr Maria Rossi, Public Health Scotland (items 5 to 7)
  • Professor Cath Noakes, University of Leeds
  • Christoph Ackermann, BDP
  • Professor Gill Hubbard, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Professor Vittal Katikireddi, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Stephen Reicher, St Andrew’s University
  • Dr Chris Iddon, The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • Alan Johnston, BE-ST
  • Neil Granger, Scottish Property Federation
  • Patricia Anderson, Health and Safety Executive  
  • Dr Alice Street, University of Edinburgh
  • Stephen Long, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Fiona Richardson, COSLA

Scottish Government attendees

  • Marion McCormack, Deputy Director, Covid Ready Society
  • Elizabeth Sadler, Deputy Director, Covid Ready Society
  • Judith Ainsley, Head of Covid Policy Unit, Covid Ready Society
  • Ian Gilzean, Chief Architect
  • Morag Angus, Chief Surveyor
  • Katherine McIsaac, Joint Head of Strategy and Insight, Directorate For Communications And Ministerial Support
  • Natalie Neilson, Head of Healthier and Covid Marketing, Directorate For Communications And Ministerial Support
  • Thomas Lennon, Construction Professional and Technical Author, Building Standards
  • Safer Workplaces Policy Official, Directorate For Economic Development
  • Covid Response Policy Officials, Directorate for Advanced Learning and Science
  • Jenny Young, Principle Research Officer, Directorate for Performance, Delivery and Resilience
  • Katherine Goodwin, Covid Ready Society
  • Covid Ready Society Policy Officials


  • Prof Linda Bauld, Chief Social Policy Advisor
  • Professor Diane Dixon, University of Aberdeen
  • Patrick Mackie, Local Authority Environmental Health
  • Dr Stephen Garvin, Deputy Director, Building Standards (Scottish Government)


  • Covid Ready Society Policy Official

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the third meeting of the COVID Adaptations Expert Advisory Group and invited introductions from Scottish Government (SG) policy colleagues attending as observers. 

Agree minute of previous meeting

An SG official confirmed the minutes from meeting one have now been published on the Group webpage.

Members were invited to comment on or propose corrections to the minutes of meeting two. No comments were raised therefore the minute was agreed and will be published on the Group webpage.

State of the pandemic

An SG official provided an update on the state of the pandemic. ONS Infection Survey data estimates 1 in 35 people in Scotland are testing positive for COVID-19. PHS continue to monitor cases via testing numbers, ONS data, deaths and ICU numbers.

Group members highlighted that data around Long COVID would be useful as an indicator. The Chair confirmed SG officials would take this away as an action and provide an update on data on Long Covid at the next meeting.

Embedding protective behaviours

Professor Stephen Reicher (SR) of the University of St Andrews delivered a presentation on embedding protective measures. SR provided an overview of risk reduction and examples of this in practice in relation to the COVID pandemic.

SR highlighted that the end of restrictions is not the end of Covid protections; rather it marks the shift from a rule based approach to a risk reduction approach. Risk reduction therefore requires multiple co-ordinated interventions which enable the public to keep themselves safe, including;

  • appraising the general risk via consistent and accurate information
  • identifying risks by mental model which frames how people view risks more generally, and by knowing the parameters which go together to determine overall risk and what one can do about it
  • motivating action by rooting behaviours in a sense of community and communal concern as people are more likely to adhere when there is a sense of social responsibility
  • scaffolding action by analysing the barriers to adherence for diverse groups in order to determine the steps that are necessary to overcome them

SR concluded that in order to embed protective measures, communication of collective risk must be consistent, there must be technical and social initiatives to identify spaces of risks, and identifying and addressing barriers to risk mitigation in diverse communities is key.

Members discussed communication and agreed that messaging is key to ensure that people can assess risk and take the most appropriate action. Members also discussed the importance of businesses and organisations communicating what they are doing to reduce risk with employees and the general public.

Some members noted that assessing risk, particularly for long range aerosol transmission, is non trivial and contains many large uncertainties and caution is needed with simple messaging.

Assessing ventilation and the use of CO2 monitors

Stephen Long (SL) of Scottish Futures Trust delivered a presentation on CO2 monitoring in Scotland’s Learning Estate with a focus on reflection and learning from the evaluation exercise.

SL set out the journey of CO2 monitoring in schools and early learning facilities, explaining that guidance was provided and monitoring encouraged across the learning estate, with regular forums with the SG and Local Authorities (LAs) in place to ensure a joined up approach.

SL advised the delivery of CO2 monitoring took place in three phases; the first phase involved the assessment of every space at least once to identify problems e.g. windows painted shut and broken handles; the second phase involved the assessment of every space every week in order to track the number of problem spaces and common issues raised; and the third phase involved assessing every space every day as a tool to inform local decision making.

The outcome resulted in 29 out of 32 Local Authorities in Scotland achieving 1:1 monitoring e.g. a monitor in use in every space, with the remainder of LAs preparing for 1:1 monitoring this winter 2022 to 2023. A LA network is used to gather regular feedback. The SG provided funding support for this initiative totalling £15 million.

A Deep Dive was held between January to June 2022 to gather insights from a sample of 29 schools with different building types and a range of monitoring and data collection approaches. Insights from the Deep Dive will feed in to the next phase of evaluation this winter 2022 to 23.

Members discussed the merits and challenges of CO2 monitoring and a brief discussion was held on the potential to roll out CO2 monitoring in different sectors and building types.

The Chair agreed to convene an interim meeting on 1 December 2022 to hold a more in-depth discussion on the potential opportunity to apply CO2 monitoring in other public spaces.

Latest relevant research and publications

An SG official invited members to highlight new pieces of research or studies, and highlighted a number of relevant recent reports.

It was also highlighted that 8 November 2022 marks the first World Ventil8 Day; an international awareness campaign to promote the critical role of better building ventilation in supporting health, well-being, and productivity.

The SG will take advantage of this opportunity to promote awareness of its public health messages and guidance around ventilation through social media and stakeholder engagement.

Any other business, next meeting and close

The Chair thanked members for their time and valuable contributions, and noted the next meeting is scheduled to be held in mid-December. The Chair confirmed an interim meeting before then would be scheduled to continue the discussion around CO2 monitoring.

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