COVID-19 closure of gyms: FOI release

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

Information requested

a) What advice, analysis and information did the Scottish Government take into account in order to reach the decision to close gyms in Scotland under coronavirus legislation? Please include equality impact assessments and any additional materials in which the impact on women, carers, economically disadvantaged communities, mental and physical health conditions and disabilities were evaluated.

b) What advice, analysis and information did the Scottish Government take into account when considering the harm to physical and mental health arising from gym closures (including any analysis on harm resulting in death and life years lost)? What mitigations were considering? Were gyms
considered for inclusion among "essential services" that would remain open?

c) What advice, analysis and information did the Scottish government take into account to evaluate the impact on Scottish health services as a result of the closure of gyms (e.g. increase in acute mental health problems, physical conditions arising from inadequate exercise, injuries sustained during outdoor exercise in winter)?

d) What advice, analysis and information did the Scottish government consider in relation to the risks to the population of exercising outdoors in winter (for example, increased risk of assault or involvement in road traffic accidents)?

e) What information does the Scottish government hold on weight gain among the Scottish population since March 2020?


The answer to your questions is decisions on what sectors and activities to re-open on our route out of llockdown 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 gyms 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. However, the EQIA and BRIA were published as part of the Regulations on 12 November: The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (

In terms of information relating to weight gain, please see the below link to chapter 4 of the Scottish Health Survey – Telephone survey – August/ September 2020 main report which is available at Scottish Health Survey – telephone survey – August/September 2020: main report -

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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