COVID-19 pandemic emergency plan January 2020: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Was there a pandemic emergency plan in place at the start of the SARS-CoV-2 / coronavirus pandemic (e.g. January 2020)?  If so, please provide it.

2. How did it account for dangerous pathogens in the ACDP hazard group 3, and group 4?  How did it account for any defined Highly Contagious Infectious Disease (HCID)?  (There are issues as to whether this coronavirus was and is correctly classified).

3. Was the emergency plan verified with the GB-wide regulator of government, healthcare, and social care?  This is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under section 18 HSWA.

4. Was the emergency plan shared with other governments in the UK?

5. How has it been revised since the pandemic commenced?


1. The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 (the Strategy) was in place at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in January 2020.  This is a planning and guidance document issued in accordance with the legal duty of Scottish Ministers to protect public health.  This is not a plan or statement issued under Health & Safety at Work legislation.  It deals specifically with an influenza pandemic and can be found at this link:

Microsoft Word - 20111103 Influenza Pandemic Strategy - Final.doc ( **

2. Section 7.12 of the Strategy refers to the duties of employers under the Health and Safety at Work ActThe Strategy then provides a link to further guidance on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website, which includes reference to the classification of influenza viruses under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended):

Pandemic Influenza - Workplace Guidance ( **

3. The UK Government Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), who consulted on the Strategy document, have advised us that they have searched available records, but have not been able to confirm whether the Health & Safety Executive were consulted about or otherwise involved in the development of the Strategy.

4. The 4 UK Governments share a common strategic approach to pandemics and the four health departments work closely together during both planning and response.  As such the Strategy was developed jointly across all 4 nations. 

5. The Strategy has not been revised since the current pandemic commenced, although work is underway to review the Scottish Government strategy, planning and guidance documentation in relation to a range of pandemics.

The Scottish Government website ** contains documentation relating to Scottish Government guidance during the current pandemic.

** Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. 

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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