Information

COVID 19 review of requirements for places of worship: FOI release

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


Information requested

1. “When was the requirement to wear a face covering in places of worship last reviewed?”

2. “When was the guidance around baptism last reviewed?”

3. “Please provide any documentation or recorded information pertaining to any such review in points 1 and 2. This could include, but is not limited to, email exchanges, meeting minutes, written recommendation etc.”

Response

I apologise for the delay in responding to your request for information. The delay has arisen as a result of the very high volumes of correspondence that we are experiencing in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. We are taking steps to ensure that FOI requests are processed timeously in future, and I apologise for the inconvenience on this occasion.

I have included a response to each of your questions below:

Question 1
The Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings and masks guidance is reviewed regularly and at least every three weeks, in line with Ministerial reviews of regulations. It is updated when changes are required, we do not necessarily make changes at every review. The guidance as a whole was last reviewed on the week commencing 24 January 2022 with changes coming into effect on 28 January 2022. This information is already available in the public domain as the Scottish Government website lists the most recent update.

You may also wish to review the Coronavirus (COVID-19): safe use of places of worship guidance which provides additional information relating to recent changes on the use of face coverings.

Question 2
The Coronavirus (COVID-19): safe use of places of worship guidance is reviewed regularly and at least every three weeks, in line with Ministerial reviews of regulations. It is updated when changes are required, we do not necessarily make changes at every review. The guidance as a whole was last reviewed on 20 January 2022. This information is already available in the public domain as the Scottish Government website lists the most recent update.

A small section of the guidance is about cleansing, ablutions and use of water, including for baptism. The most recent review did not require any changes to the best practice advice on cleansing, ablutions and use of water. The last changes to the baptism advice were made on 25 August 2021, after the move to Level 0.

Question 3
I have attached documentation relating to the review points referenced in the answers to questions one and two above. For your convenience I have provided an overview of these documents in Annex A. Some of the information has been redacted as the information is not relating to the policy on face coverings or baptism in relation to places of worship and is therefore out with the scope of your request.

These include copies of guidance documents and meeting minutes between Scottish Government Officials and Faith and Belief stakeholders responsible for places of worship.

On reviewing said documents, an exemption has been applied in line with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

The exemption applied in this instance was:

A small amount of information has been redacted from the documents disclosed under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA. This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the 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.

ANNEX A

Faith and Belief – Covid 19 – Good practice guidance for places of worship – v30 20 January 2022 PDF attachment
Faith and Belief – Covid 19 – Good practice guidance for places of worship – v26 18 August 2021 PDF attachment
Faith and Belief – Meeting with representatives – 18 August 2021 PDF attachment

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.

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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