COVID-19 restrictions and aquatic training: FOI release

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

Information requested

What is the medical and scientific evidence that supports the circumstance of the prevention of participation for over 18s in club swimming training whilst at the same time backs continuation of under 18s training and public lane swimming? This is in relation to level 3 regulations in Scotland.


Decisions on what sectors and activities to re-open on our route out of lockdown are guided by the principles set out in our 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 swimming pools and indoor sports as in general neither the Scottish Government, the Chief Medical Officer's Advisory Group or 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 gyms which Ministers have used to make decisions.

The Scottish Government is currently preparing to publish this information in due course, 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.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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