Scientific evidence regarding restrictions of pubs and gyms in Scotland: FOI release

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

Information requested

You asked what definitive science data was used as justification for the lockdown of all pubs and gyms, by the number of Covid 19 cases that were directly identified as a source of infection in any tier by either business.


While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reasons why we don't have the information are explained below.

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 gyms and pubs specifically 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.

What we do know is that once a person contracts COVID-19 it is highly likely that it will spread amongst the household. With that in mind we need to limit opportunities for non-essential interactions between households and that is what has driven the current restrictions, including those within hospitality. Evidence has indicated that the mixing of different households indoors carries a number of risks, therefore reducing the level of interaction among different households will
help drive down transmission and help suppress the virus. Please see the Coronavirus evidence paper produced by the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and National Clinical Director for further detail: Coronavirus (COVID-19): evidence paper - October 2020 - (

You may also find it helpful to refer to the published impact assessment covering restrictions on hospitality The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (

Contacts are traced from information collected and made available to Test and Protect by Incident Management Teams. This allows Test and Protect to contact those who may have been exposed to the virus in a particular setting, and request them to take appropriate steps to prevent potential onward spread.

Public Health Scotland has produced a table of settings and events that index cases have attended over the previous 7 days. This is based on interviews conducted with cases identified in the Case Management System and involves cases recalling where they have been in the 7 days prior to symptom onset (or date of test if asymptomatic). COVID-19 statistical report 13 January 2021 - Data & intelligence from PHS (

However, Public Health Scotland cannot infer from the figures whether a specific setting or an event indicates where the COVID-19 transmission took place. This is because cases may have attended multiple settings or events within a short space of time, some of which may be low risk settings and events where it is highly improbable that transmission took place. In addition, it is possible that even though a case visited a few settings and events, transmission may have taken place within their home setting.

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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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