Publication - FOI/EIR release

Covid 19 managed isolation and quarantine: FOI review

Published: 26 Oct 2021

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

Published:
26 Oct 2021
Covid 19 managed isolation and quarantine: FOI review
FOI reference: FOI/202100238934 review of 202100224407
Date received: 31 Aug 2021
Date responded: 28 Sep 2021
Information requested

Your request, reference 202100224407
1. The number of individuals who have applied for exceptional arrangements to be made on compassionate grounds under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 since 15th February 2021.

2. The number of individuals who have been granted exceptional arrangements on compassionate grounds under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 since 15th February 2021.

3. The nature of the compassionate grounds that have been accepted by Scottish Ministers when granting exceptional arrangements under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 since 15th February 2021.

4. The nature of the exceptional arrangements that have been prescribed by Scottish Ministers to individuals under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 since 15th February 2021.

5. The name of the directorate with portfolio responsibility for managed isolation which has been entrusted to respond requests under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

6. The number of individuals who have lodged appeals under Regulation 6C of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to the sheriff or the summary sheriff against the requirement to possess a managed self-isolation package or remain in the managed isolation accommodation.

7. The number of individuals who have been granted exceptional arrangements or otherwise after appealing under Regulation 6C of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 to the sheriff or the summary sheriff against the requirement to possess a managed self-isolation package or remain in the managed isolation accommodation; and

8. The updated numbers published in FOI/202100211118 and FOI/202100215743.

Your review request, reference 202100238934
1. Exemption under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA); and

2. Exemplification of 'compassionate grounds' under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Response

I have been asked to look at your request afresh, to decide whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, as appropriate, or that a fresh decision should be substituted. I can confirm that I was not involved in the handling or decision-making around the original response. In reviewing this case, I have checked the procedures followed our statutory obligations. I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.

The scope of my review is limited to points 1, 2, 3 and 4 as this is the parts of our response to which you have expressed dissatisfaction.

Exemption under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA)

I considered your original request, your request for a review, and the response provided by Mr Cooney. I agree with Mr Cooney, that for the specific dates set out in your original request, we were entitled to refuse your request under section 12 of FOISA. I am satisfied that the cost of responding would exceed the upper cost limit of £600.

It may be helpful if I explain that communication to the Operational Management Team (OMT), of which Mr Cooney is part of, receive queries regarding international travel from multiple routes including the Scottish Government, UK Government, hotels, security, Border Force and the traveller. Our initial search returns identified in excess of 57,000 emails over the period of your request from 19 February 2021 to 19 July 2021 which would need to be reviewed individually to extract the relevant information falling within the scope of your request.

Having completed a sample to inform a cost estimate, I am satisfied with the assessment that we could review on average 240 emails per hour which when taken across the total emails identified would substantially exceed the upper cost limit of £600 with the resource implications well in excess of 40 hours.

If you wish to consider reducing the scope of your original request in order that the costs can be brought below £600, one area where the scope could be narrowed is identifying a specific route where we receive exemptions, excluding the traveller themselves. I appreciate that you have tried to narrow the scope of your request by timeframe, however, in order to meet our obligations under FOISA and protect your right to review and appeal, we would need you to specify the shorter time frame in which you are most interested. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for
requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.

Information available within a different date range
However, you may wish to note that from 10 May 2021 the OMT started to record exemptions in a more accessible format. This data has not been fully audited however during this review I have carried out analysis of this data and information which may be of interest to you from 10 May up to and including 26 September 2021 is below:

  • 49 exemptions granted under regulations Part 3 6D 2(xi) ‘a person whom the Scottish Ministers consider requires exceptional arrangements to be made on compassionate grounds’, 32 declined, totalling 81 applications.

Data from 10 May up to and including 19 July 2021 shows:

  • 32 exemptions granted under regulations Part 3 6D 2(xi) ‘a person whom the Scottish Ministers consider requires exceptional arrangements to be made on compassionate grounds’, 27 declined, totalling 59 applications.

Exemplification of 'compassionate grounds' under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

As highlighted by Mr Cooney in his reply on 17 August 2021, each case under Regulation 6D(2)(xi) is considered on a case-by-case basis and on its own merits.

Having reviewed the 49 exemptions from 10 May until 26 September I can confirm that the granting of compassionate exemptions typically fell into 3 categories:

  • a traveller who is unable to be supported/medically cared for in a quarantine hotel, 34 granted
  • a traveller who is experiencing trauma due to close family bereavement, 13 granted
  • a traveller where a sectoral exemption was applied whilst in a quarantine hotel, 2 granted

Data from 10 May up to and including 19 July 2021 shows:

  • a traveller who is unable to be supported/medically cared for in a quarantine hotel, 24 granted
  • a traveller who is experiencing trauma due to close family bereavement, 6 granted
  • a traveller where a sectoral exemption was applied whilst in a quarantine hotel, 2 granted


About FOI
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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