COVID-19: Closure of places of worship: FOI release

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

Information requested

1) I would be extremely grateful if you could email me a full copy of the Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessment - as well as a full copy of all the evidence underpinning the same Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessment - specifically pertaining to worshippers and Places of Worship that the Scottish Minister(s) issuing the regulations that came into force in Scotland on or around the 5th of January 2021 considered in their deliberations prior to issuing the aforementioned regulations.

2) I would also be extremely grateful if you could supply me with the evidence (such a scientific study or government report) that details the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases confirmed as having been transmitted in the setting of a Place of Worship in Scotland since testing for Covid-19 began in Scotland.


In response to question 1, 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 (

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 - (

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 the Annex to this letter (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

The Scottish Government has also published a suite of information and evidence relating to our strategy to tackling Coronavirus on the Scottish Government website:

In response to part 2 of your request, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold the information you have requested. This is because Public Health Scotland are responsible for the information relating to this data collection.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information for this part of your request.

However, you may wish to contact Public Health Scotland at Information requests - Contact us - Public Health Scotland who may be able to help you.

In the meantime, you can find data on “cases by setting location” going back to November on the Public Health Scotland Dashboard - Data & intelligence from PHS ( under settings.

About FOI

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

FoI-202100133792 - Information released - Annex A
FoI-202100133792 - Information released - 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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