Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scientific evidence which influenced the decision to restrict the opening of gyms: FOI release

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

Published:
10 Nov 2020
Scientific evidence which influenced the decision to restrict the opening of gyms: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000077723
Date received: 11 Aug 2020
Date responded: 10 Nov 2020
Information requested

I would like to ask for an FOI detailing the scientific reasons and facts for not allowing Scottish Gyms to  open. Specifically information which contradicts or disproves the reasons that other countries (and WHO) must have considered before they decided it was safe, with mitigations, to open gyms.

Included in the FOI I am requesting the statistical data which provides factual information / data on the number of transmissions and spikes caused by gyms which the Scottish Government must have considered.

Also within the FOI please provide information on any minuted discussions (and subsequent facts) from which the Scottish Government have concluded that gyms are more of a risk than indoor pubs.

Also to include in the FOI the data which correlates to the number of positive infections in Scotland attributed to and as a result of people Not complying with guidance provided by Scottish Government within an indoor environment, specifically pubs and other indoor places.

Response

Some of the information you have requested regarding decisions around gyms and pubs is available from https://www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-scotlands-route-map/. This collection details Scotland’s phased approach through and out of the COVID-19 crisis and transitioning out of lockdown, including the framework and supporting evidence that guides decision making. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Whilst we cannot provide specific figures around pubs and gyms figure 12 within the Scottish Government's evidence paper provides the percentage of reported exposures of confirmed coronavirus cases within a hospitality and sport setting. Please note this graph captures both restaurants and bars under the banner of hospitality. Please note cases can report more than 1 social exposure. Just because a case mentions that they have been at a particular venue or gathering event this does not imply that they acquired infection at that location similarly this applies to reports of non compliance, and therefore whether suspected or not we cannot confirm infection was acquired through non compliance as per your request. In addition I have been unable to find any material comparing the risks of pubs to gyms. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have this information you have requested in regards to your last 3 points. In this instance we are unable to provide some the information that you have requested because an exemption under section 27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to that information. This exemption applies because we intend to publish the information on the 20 November which within 12 weeks of the date of your request.

We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this information before the planned publication date. This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in the release of this information now because of the substantial public interest in understanding the evidence behind those restrictions and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

In the meantime you may find the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) website useful; https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-responseto-coronavirus-covid-19.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG