Devolved Government COVID-19 strategy: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. Could the Scottish Government have adopted a different strategy to that of the UK government for the initial management of the COVID-19 pandemic?

2.  Would the existing devolved powers of the Scottish Government enable it to have adopted a different strategy had it so wished?

3.  Was the Scottish Government obliged to adopt the four-nation approach?

4. Did the Scottish Government agree with the four-nation approach?

5. Did the Scottish Government at any point wish to adopt a different strategy to that of the four-nation approach?

6. Did the Scottish Government at any point make a request to the UK government to take a different approach in the timing and nature of the initial lockdown?


Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the Scottish Government has been working with the governments of the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of a four nations approach.

The Scottish Government response has been guided at all times by the most up to date and expert scientific advice. When the four nations approach aligns with the science, evidence and advice applicable to Scotland, the Scottish Government supports it. On the occasions when the evidence supports the case for different approaches, the Scottish Government has made, and will continue to make, decisions which reflect the government’s top priority of minimising the harm in Scotland.

Under the devolution settlement, the Scottish Government is able to take a different approach when the evidence and advice suggest that is the best course of action for Scotland.

Decision making has been and continues to be guided by the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) which feeds into SAGE. SAGE provides advice to both Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) and the group of Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) group. This group consists of the chief medical officers of all of the nations of the UK. Further advice was given to Scottish Ministers by the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland and the Scottish Government Covid-19 Advisory Group.

The 4 Nations Action Plan published in March set out the collective approach that Governments across the UK were pursuing in terms of contain, delay, mitigate and the research aspects of dealing with the Covid-19, and was also clear that the exact response would at all times be tailored to the nature, scale and location of the virus impacts, and the roles and responsibilities of each administration

Published papers from SAGE and the Scottish Government Covid-19 Advisory Group can be found on the UK Government website and the Scottish Government website.

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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