Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scientific evidence to support the re-opening of certain sectors and activities: FOI release

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

Published:
10 Nov 2020
Scientific evidence to support the re-opening of certain sectors and activities: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000094720
Date received: 3 Oct 2020
Date responded: 9 Nov 2020
Information requested

"Indoor Play Centres for children under the age of 12-years old are one of a small group of businesses that as of October 2020 have been required by the Scottish Government to remain closed. It has been stated many times by the Scottish Government that their decisions as to which businesses and sections of the economy to open have been based on scientific evidence and advice. Please can you make this scientific evidence and advice, specifically as it relates to indoor play centres, available to me through this FOI request?

From what I have been able to find out from the publicly available information children under the age of 14 account for 0.02% of cases in Scotland and there have zero deaths in Scotland of anyone under the age of 25. Furthermore, the advice from the Scottish Government has been that children under the age of 12 are not required to wear mask or socially distance and they are not included in the recent “Rule of 6” numbers for social gatherings.

I am therefore interested to find out via this Freedom of Information request what specific scientificevidence has been made available to the Scottish Government that has driven their decisions to maintain an enforced closure of Indoor Play Centres in Scotland – while those very same facilities have been opened throughout the rest of the UK from as early as 10th August.

I look forward to hearing back from you with the requested information."

Response

Decisions on what sectors and activities to re-open on our route out of lockdown are guided by the principles set out in our Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making.. Proposals are technically assessed using the best available evidence and analysis of their potential benefits and harms to health, the economy, and broader society to minimise overall harm and ensure transmission of the virus continues to be suppressed. This assessment process includes oversight of the assessed health risks in different settings by the Chief Medical Officer and input from the other Chief Clinicians as appropriate.

It is not possible to publish scientific evidence specifically on indoor soft play centres as in general neither the Scottish Government, the Chief Medical Officer's Advisory Group nor SAGE have produced evidence papers on a sectoral basis. Instead, we have used scientific evidence on transmission coupled with the social and economic benefits of these facilities which the Scottish Ministers have used to make decisions.

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

The Scottish Government is currently preparing to publish information on 18 November 2020, so this is a formal notice under section 27(1) of the FOISA, that the information is intended for future publication. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information rather than release some of 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 but we believe the public interest is best met by our planned publication. There is 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 future publication date.

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