“I would like to make an foi request with regards to the latest restrictions in place on places of worship.
Can you provide details of any meeting minutes, or other recorded information, that pertains to any discussion or consideration made to ensure the regulations and guidance on places of worship comply with the European Convention on Humans Rights - in particular article 9.2.”
As your request is dated 4 January 2021, this response is based on the assumption that the information you are requesting relates to the First Minister’s address on 4 January 2021, and the intimation that The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 11) Regulations 2021, would require the closure of places of worship in Level 4 areas were closed (with certain exceptions). Those Regulations are now in force.
Some of the information you have requested is available online. The Equality Impact Assessment which accompanies the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 11) Regulations 2021 can be found here: The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 11) Regulations 2021 (legislation.gov.uk)
Further evidence underpinning the decision to introduce additional measures for level 4 local authority areas is available in the State of the Epidemic in Scotland report published on 04 January 2021, which can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): state of the epidemic in Scotland 4 January 2021 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
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 websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
I also enclose a copy of some of the information you have requested at Annex A as outlined below.
Documents included in Annex A:
1. HARM 1 - The Direct Impact of COVID – Places of Worship - 21 December 2020
2. Email from Connected Communities Unit Head to Coronavirus Legislation Co-ordination – Places of Worship – 23 December 2020
3. Submission to the Cabinet Secretary for Communities on the Tightening of Places of Worship – 29 December 2020
4. Email from Head of COVID Analysis regarding 4 Harms – Places of Worship – 31 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 to some or all of that information. Exemptions under section 29(1)(a) (policy formulation), section 30(b)(i) (free and frank advice), section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) and section 36(1) (legal advice) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions have been applied are explained in Annex B.
You may find it helpful to note that the Deputy First Minister provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Covid Committee on the enhanced restrictions for places of worship. This letter is available on the Scottish Parliament website: SG - Gaelic - Cabinet Secretary for Training Youth and Womens Employment.dot (parliament.scot)
The Scottish Government has also published a suite of information and evidence relating to our strategy to tackling Coronavirus on the Scottish Government website: Coronavirus in Scotland - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
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.
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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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