Correspondence relating to attendance limit at place of worship: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Correspondence sent or received by the Connected Communities division of the Local Government and Communities directorate on Covid-19 related restrictions on public worship.

Following your initial request, in your email of 18 January 2021 you confirm that the following parameters should be applied to your request:

“…main interest is in the limits on attendance at, and most recently the cessation of, public worship: how they have been formed, and on what basis (i.e. the rationale, what information was considered, any expert advice or political input, what consideration was given to alternatives e.g. attendance limits based on capacity, number of households or distancing requirements, and why they were ruled out).

In terms of dates I suspect this could be limited to the following: 29th June to 21st July 2020 (reopening for public worship), 19th October to 9th November (introduction of the Levels system) and 14th December 2020 through present (latest restrictions including closure), or preferably the latest available date.”


Attached is a copy of most of the information requested in Annex A. These documents are:

1. Email exchange regarding capacity restrictions on places of worship – 8 July 2020.

2. Submission to Ministers on determining a maximum capacity for places of worship at Phase 3 – 8 July 2020.

3. Response from First Minister and subsequent email exchange on maximum capacity for places of worship at Phase 3.

4. Email from Connected Communities to Exit Strategy/Outbreak Management regarding Protection Levels – 16 October 2020 at 16:37.

5. Attachment to Email from Connected Communities on 16 October at 16:37.

6. Email correspondence between Connected Communities, Exit Strategy and Outbreak Management regarding Protection Levels – 21 October 2020.

7. Email from Connected Communities Unit Head to Coronavirus Legislation Co-ordination – Places of Worship – 23 December 2020.

8. Correspondence on Draft Submission on Tightening of Restrictions at Level 4 – 29 December 2020.

9. Submission to the Cabinet Secretary for Communities on the Tightening of Places of Worship – 29 December 2020.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information in the above noted documents because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names or contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption applies. Exemptions under section 29(1)(a) (policy formulation), section 30(b)(i) (free and frank advice), and section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions have been applied are explained in Annex B.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI202100132146 - Annex A
FOI202100132146 - Annex B


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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