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23 February 2022
ATISN 16017 – Evidence supporting Covid restrictions
Thank you for your request to the Welsh Government for information under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) received on 26 January 2022. You have requested the following:
All evidence, including data, reports, meeting minutes and other published information that substantiated the introduction of the restriction on the number of spectators attending outdoor sporting and other events. In particular you request sight of evidence:
- Confirming that attendance at outdoor community sporting occasions and other events warranted particular restriction.
- That congregation in the open air offered a particular threat when set against, for instance, the fact that indoor gatherings (subject to limited restriction) could exceed 50 conditional upon observance of the limited restrictions applicable.
- Confirming the particular risk of transmission occurring were crowds of more than 50 to congregate in the open air to watch a game of, say, rugby or football
- Confirming the scientific basis for establishing that the number ‘50’ offered acceptable level of risk whereas the comparable level of risk for, say, 60 or more spectators was unacceptable.
- That the restriction would have no impact upon income/profitability as The Business Minister has since asserted; and
- Confirming to what extent (and how that was scientifically borne out) the risk had reduced enabling the restrictions to be lifted in recent days.
The information you requested is publicly available and accessible via the links provided below.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) issued a statement on 22 December 2021 that recommend Ministers to urgently consider the reintroduction of measures aimed at reducing viral transmission through population mixing. The CMO also stated ‘As with previous waves, consideration should also be given to protections aimed at reducing mixing between households’. Please see here: https://gov.wales/statement-chief-medical-officer-covid-19-review-21-days-22-december-2021..
The Technical Advisory Cell (TAC) has provided Ministers with scientific advice throughout the pandemic. On 15 December, the advice from (TAC) recommended Alert Level 4 restrictions. This recommendation was stronger than the measures implemented. Please see here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2021-12/technical-advisory-group-advice-to-cabinet-for-the-weekly-covid-19-review-15-december.pdf
Furthermore, the Coronavirus control plan alert levels in Wales document can be accessed here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2021-02/coronavirus-control-plan-alert-levels-in-wales.pdf. This outlines the measures implemented at each alert level.
The TAC advice published on 13 January and 21 January 2022, outlined that the public health situation in Wales had improved. This gave Ministers the opportunity to ease restrictions to ensure the restrictions remained proportionate and continued to balance the associated harms (including socioeconomic and mental health). Please see here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2022-01/advice-technical-advisory-cell-and-chief-scientific-advisor-health-21-day-review-13-january.pdf and here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2022-02/technical-advisory-cell-summary-of-advice-21-january-2022.pdf .
The minutes to the Cabinet meetings on the 20 and 21 December were published on the 4 February and can be accessed here: https://gov.wales/cabinet-meeting-20-and-21-december-2021-html . Points 3.7- 3.9 on the 21 December contain the relevant information to this request.
Policy colleagues in Welsh Government used annex 1 to engage with a range of stakeholders in the sectors that were impacted by the Alert Level 2 restrictions. There were no minutes for these meetings.
Furthermore, Annex 2 provides excerpts from meetings of the Shadow Social Partnership Council (SSPC). Original paragraph numbers have been maintained under the relevant agenda item headings.
The Welsh Government completes Summary Impact Assessments (SIAs) for publication in relation to Coronavirus protections. The SIA, which includes equality, wellbeing and economic impact assessments, for the measures put in place from 26 December 2021 will be published as soon as possible and will be available at https://gov.wales/impact-assessments-coronavirus.
Whilst I can confirm that the Welsh Government holds information of this description in the form of a SIA, it is considered exempt under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. This states (inter alia):
1) Information is exempt information if—
(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not),
(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time when the request for information was made, and
(c) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph (a)
I assess the conditions under (a) and (b) are satisfied. Welsh Government does hold the information being requested however this information (in the form of a SIA) will be published as soon as possible.
Under (c), the Welsh Government believes that it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until that time. Publishing the requested information now may not fully reflect the information that will be published on the website as the document is undergoing quality assurance checks in preparation for publication. For that reason, we believe it is reasonable for the publication schedule to remain to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the information.
If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response. Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at:
Information Rights Unit,
or Email: Freedom.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please remember to quote the ATISN reference number above.
You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office,
However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.