Information

Communication regarding drafting of Covid-19 physical distancing guidance: FOI release

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


Information requested

full details and copies of all internal and external correspondence regarding the drafting of the document;

Coronavirus (COVID-19): calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings - draft

Please provide full details of all internal ScotGov departments that were involved in the draft and all external individuals and organisations that were involved in the draft.

Response

Attached is a copy of some of information requested. 

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) S29(1)(a) (policy formulation), S30(b)(i), free and frank advice and S30(b)(ii) free and frank exchange of views, S36(1) legal advice and S38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Exemptions under section 29(1)(a), section 30(b)(i) and (ii) and section 36(1) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 are subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemptions. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public
debate but also a public interest in ensuring that the development of Government policy and the free exchange of views as part of that process are not inhibited.

Exemptions under S29 (1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy and ministerial correspondence) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because if it relates to the formulation or development of government policy. This is consideration or development of options and priorities for Scottish Ministers, who will subsequently determine which of these should be translated into political action and/or legislation and when. These redactions are subject
to the ‘public interest test’ and we have considered that on balance it is not in the public interest to release this information.

Release of this information would likely undermine the decision making process and the quality of policy decisions of the Scottish Government. This would not be in the public interest and would be detrimental to the quality of guidance issued to the Scottish public and inhibit the development of effective policy interventions relating to reducing transmission of Covid-19.

Exemptions under S30(b)(i) and (ii) of FOISA (the free and frank exchange of advice or views for the purposes of deliberation) apply to some the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to have free and frank exchange of views before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on contact tracing and self-isolation policy would inhibit the free and frank exchange of advice and views and, as such, inhibit the formulation of Government policy. This exemptions are subject to the public interest test.

Release of this information would be likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues, including social distancing policy which remains a live issue and is likely to be so for the foreseeable future. This in turn could inhibit the policy development process, leading to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future. This would not be in the public interest and would be detrimental to the development of effective policy interventions related to Covid-19.

Exemptions under S36(1) (legally privileged) apply to some of the information request. These exemptions apply because a claim to confidentiality of communications could be maintained in legal proceedings.

Release of this information would be likely to undermine future legal advice regarding the development of guidance and policy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Exemptions under S38(1)(b) (personal information) apply to some of the information request. These exemptions apply to ensure the identity of non-senior employees of the Scottish government and its stakeholders.

In addition, some information was deemed to be out of scope of the FOI request and has therefore been redacted accordingly.

About FOI
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.

FOI202100194633 - Information released

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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