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Introduction

Since the last review of coronavirus regulations, Wales has continued to see a worsening trend in the prevalence of COVID-19. It is estimated the level of infections today is at 2,500 and at the current rate of growth the number of infections would exceed the level of the March peak by the end of October.

For this first time in this second wave of infections, incidence for Wales is higher than 100 cases per 100,000 people and positivity for Wales is above 7.5%. The scientific evidence drawn on to assess the public health risks is provided by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell and available on the gov.wales website.

In recognition of this and as part of the review of national regulations on 22 October, Welsh Ministers decided to put in place a number of enhanced measures for a short time period, with the aim of rapidly reducing the rate of transmission and bringing the virus back under control. Information about previous restrictions and associated impact assessments can also be found on the gov.wales website.

Legislative background

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on 26 March. These were replaced by The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 on 10 July. A consolidated version of the most recent Regulations can be found here.

Regulation 3(2) requires Welsh Ministers to review the need for restrictions and requirements under the Regulations every 21 days. When restrictions are no longer proportionate, Welsh Ministers are committed to amending or withdrawing them.

Summary of the firebreak measures

Welsh Ministers have agreed a time limited “firebreak” where restrictions come into force across Wales from Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November to coincide with half term and university reading weeks.

During the period, people in Wales are required to stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse, including needing to:

  • Exercise (by themselves, with members of their household or with a carer)
  • Work or provide charitable services
  • Meet a legal obligation
  • Access childcare (including informal childcare)
  • Access or receive critical public services
  • Access education (with the exception of students in years 9-13 in schools and Further Education [“FE”] unless attending for the purposes of sitting exams)
  • Attend a solmisation of a wedding or attend a funeral
  • Move home
  • Avoid injury or harm
  • Visit a care home
  • Undertake elite sports

People in Wales may not gather with anyone outside of their household, unless they are a single person household or a single parent, whereby they may form an extended household with one other household. Reasonable excuses for meeting others indoors are to:

  • Work or provide charitable services
  • Meet a legal obligation
  • Access childcare (including informal childcare)
  • Access or receive critical public services
  • Access education (with the exception of students in years 9-13 in schools and FE unless attending for the purposes of sitting exams)
  • Attend a solmisation of a wedding or attend a funeral

People must work from home if it is reasonable and practicable to do so and people resident outside Wales are not able to enter or remain in Wales without a reasonable excuse.

The regulations also include the requirement for the following businesses to close:

  • Any business selling goods or services for sale or hire in a shop, except for certain businesses referred to in Schedule 3 of the regulations: food retailers, pharmacies, petrol stations, garages, taxi & vehicle hire businesses, banks, post offices, funeral directors, launderettes, health services, vets, livestock auctions, distribution services, car parks and public toilets;
  • Cinemas; theatres, nightclubs, sexual entertainment venues, bingo halls, concert halls, casinos, close contact services, skating rinks and swimming pools
  • Indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities.
  • Bowling alleys, amusement arcades and indoor play areas.
  • Museums, galleries and archive services.
  • Funfairs
  • Indoor play areas
  • Auction houses (except for livestock auctions)
  • Car dealerships
  • Outdoor markets
  • Betting shops
  • Shopping centres, shopping arcades or any other business selling goods or services for sale or hire in a shop that is not referred to in Schedule 4
  • Visitor attractions
  • Libraries
  • Estate or letting agents, developer sales offices and show homes

Primary schools, special schools, education other than at school (EOTAS) provision and childcare services will remain open. However to reduce the overall number of social contacts and to depress the transmission rate, secondary schools will only remain open to the youngest pupils (years 7 and 8) and to those sitting exams which cannot be rescheduled. Further education (“FE”) colleges will also remain closed to pupils for the week following the half term break and as with secondary schools, they will be expected to offer on line learning to students for this week.

Equality impact assessment of the measures

The primary harm the Welsh Government is seeking to mitigate is in relation to direct harm from COVID 19: protecting public health and preserving life. However the firebreak is intended to mitigate against wider harms by re-introducing strict measures in the short term, which mean society and the economy can be kept open in the medium to long term. The decision to implement a firebreak in Wales has been based on scientific evidence and advice produced in the light of the worsening public situation in the UK and Wales. The UK Government Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) paper suggested that a “firebreak” in which a package of measures is re-introduced for a time limited period would act to reduce R below 1, to 0.8, and set back the state of the current wave by 28 days (for a two week firebreak). This means that resumption in the epidemic’s exponential growth would be from a significantly lower level than would have been the case without the break. This assumption is on the basis of good adherence to measures, and no additional increase in contacts before or after the break.

Annexes A-C provide equality impact assessments of (1) restrictions on gathering and travelling; (2) business closures; (3) requiring students in years 9-13 in schools and FE to stay at home for a further week after half term.

Additional considerations and other impact assessments

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The following EHCR articles are likely to be engaged whilst meeting the overarching aim of bringing the virus under control: article 2 (right to life), 5 (rights to liberty); 8 (right to respect for home); 9 (freedom of religion); 11 (rights to assemble); 14 (prohibition from discrimination), A1P1 (enjoyment of possessions) A2P1 (right to education). These are all qualified rights and interference with these rights can be lawful where that interference is necessary, pursues a legitimate aim and is proportionate.

The fundamental purpose of all the coronavirus restrictions has been to protect everyone’s right to life (Article 2 of the ECHR). Whilst the package of measures agreed for implementation between 23 October and 9 November will infringe on many of the ECHR articles, this is considered proportionate in seeking to preserve life. It is also important to note the decision to implement a two week firebreak - with severe restrictions for households and widespread closures in the economy - strikes a balance between protecting public health and the social, financial, economic and well-being harms caused by the restrictions. A longer period would cause greater harms to people’s lives and livelihoods. The tighter restrictions during this short period are intended to reduce the need for further restrictions, although this cannot be ruled out.

It should also be noted exemptions and reasonable excuses in the regulations will enable people to gather indoors and travel for certain purposes to mitigate against some of the disproportionate impacts on people with protected characteristics. For example, the ability to access childcare – or for single parents to form an extended household - seeks to mitigate against the disproportionate impact on women of the requirement to stay at home. Similarly, the exemption in relation to providing care seeks to mitigate against mental and physical health harms that might be suffered by vulnerable groups as a result of this requirement.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been considered in this assessment. The following Articles of the UNCRC are likely to be engaged:

  • Article 6: All children have the right of life, Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily
  • Article 12: Children have the right to say what they think should happen, when adults are making decisions that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account.
  • Article 13: Children have the right to get and share information as long as the information is not damaging to them or to others.
  • Article 17: Children have the right to reliable information from the mass media, Television, radio and newspapers should provide information that children can understand, and should not promote materials that could harm children.
  • Article 23: Children who have any kind of disability should have special care and support so that they can lead full and independent lives.
  • Article 26: The Government should provide extra money for the children of families in need.
  • Article 27: Children have a right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and mental needs. The Government should help families who cannot afford to provide this.
  • Article 28: Children have a right to an education. Discipline in schools should respect children’s human dignity. Primary education should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this.
  • Article 29: Education should develop each child’s personality and talents to the full. It should encourage children to respect their parents, and their own and others cultures.
  • Article 31: Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of activities.

Over 23,700 children and young people aged 7-18 shared their views through the ‘Coronavirus and Me’ Survey.[1] [2] Some of the findings are set out below:

  • Children said they had worries about how long the situation would last and fears that they or those they love will catch the virus.
  • Disabled children were more likely to be feeling worried about the virus and were concerned about catching it.
  • The top three concerns young people (12-18) had about the stay at home rules were ‘not being able to spend time with friends’ (72%), ‘not being able to visit family members’ (59%) and ‘school or college closing’ (42%)
  • 12-18 year olds are reporting worries about their education: only 11% of respondents in this age group stated they did not feel worried about their education, with the main concern being worried about falling behind (54%). BAME respondents were more likely to say they were worried about getting behind with their learning.
  • The majority of children reported playing more than usual (53%) with a wide range of online and offline play described including outdoor play, imaginary play, playing with toys or games, sports, and creative play. This was during the time when the regulations had changed to allow children to go out to play and exercise more often. BAME children were more likely to say they were playing less.
  • Disabled children and young people were more likely to about the negative impact on their mental health in their response to the survey.
  • BAME children reported in the survey that were more likely to say they needed help making sure their family had enough food. They are more likely to report indications of food insecurity. This has also been reported by stakeholders who work directly with the BAME community.

Other sources of evidence include the Babies in Lockdown report, a review of the potential impacts of developmental delay and feedback from a range of stakeholders. For some children and young people, the period of lockdown and restrictions has been a positive experience, for others it has compounded already difficult circumstances. The majority (58%) of children and young people who took part in the survey reported that they have felt happy most of the time during the crisis and a large majority (84%) report feeling safe most of the time. Young people of secondary age reported more negative feelings than younger children, with 16% feeling sad ‘most of the time’. 2% overall report that they have ‘not very often’ felt safe.

The two week restrictions will – for a short period - infringe on children’s rights to visit friends and family. Whilst this is anticipated to cause anxiety for children, as was seen during the initial lockdown period, the time bound nature of the intervention may mitigate against the worst affects.

The principle of keeping childcare and schools open (to the greatest possible extent) aims to mitigate against the negative impact for children in terms of social, emotional, physical and educational development and play, particularly for BAME children and for those who do not have access to good IT at home. [Although this has limited, if any, impact on those children who do not attend childcare or school, meaning that access to outdoor space to exercise, play and experience the wider area are important]. In its report into inequalities and the impact of Covid-19[3], the ELGC Committee highlighted fears that children with the lowest educational attainment before the pandemic will have fallen further behind their peers, such as boys, children of certain ethnicities, and those with SEN/ALN. Connectedly, the Institute for Fiscal Studies[4] found that pupils from better-off families are spending longer on home learning; they have access to more individualised resources such as private tutoring or chats with teachers; they have a better home set-up for distance learning; and their parents report feeling more able to support them.

For children and young people in years 9 – 13 in secondary schools and in FE the firebreak measures will represent a further period of disruption to their education, and potentially the sense of normality and safety which schools have being trying to instil. This is anticipated to have an impact on the wellbeing of children and also on their focus on their learning and preparing for exams in the summer.

To redress some of the impacts from the initial lockdown a £1.3m scheme to tackle developmental delay has been launched following concerns around children missing milestones for both physical development and speech, language and communication development. 

In relation to the economic well-being of children, the Welsh Government has prioritised families who are in poverty through the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF), Free School Meals (FSM) and foodbanks, ensuring that support is place so that no child should go hungry. Additional funding has been made available to support these measures and therefore help to mitigate against feelings of food insecurity, particularly experienced by BAME children. However, it is acknowledged this is unlikely to be sufficient to redress the impact of a loss of earnings for a fortnight for those workers on zero hours contracts, agency workers or those who will only take home a two thirds of their wages, if they are in a position that their employer can access the new UK JSS fund.

To support communication with children and parents, the Welsh Government will utilise existing campaigns and networks to distribute information and advice to parents, for example the Parenting: Give it Time campaign; the Flying Start Facebook page; the Parenting Expert Action Group, Childcare, Flying Start and Families First Networks. This work will seek to reassure children, explain what is happening and help parents to support their children to continue to enjoy some of their critical rights, e.g. right to enjoy relaxation and play.

Wider economic, social and wellbeing impacts

There remain harms associated with the long-term social and economic impact of continued restrictions. In particular, it is evident that the potential long-term economic and societal impacts of COVID-19 is likely to be significant. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that monthly gross domestic product (GDP) in the UK in August 2020 was 9.2% lower than the levels seen in February 2020. This follows the unprecedented 19.8% fall in GDP in the second quarter of 2020 (April to June). Although regional GDP figures for that period have not yet been published for that same period, the size of the contraction observed in Wales is likely to be consistent with the UK as a whole. Furthermore, the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey covering 7 to 20 September found that of businesses currently trading, nearly half (47%) reported their turnover had decreased below what is normally expected for this time of year.

There is evidence to show that the economic downturn is now starting to have an impact on the labour market. Labour market figures released last week (w/c 12 October) showed a deteriorating picture for employment, with the number of paid employees in September 2.1% lower than the position in February. In Wales the unemployment rate was 3.8% between June to August 2020, compared to 3.2% between January and March 2020. Evidence from previous recessions indicates that the young, the low paid, those with lower levels of qualification; those in temporary and part time employment; the disabled; women; those from minority ethnic groups are the ones that are most likely to suffer adverse effects throughout the crisis and in its aftermath. At the UK level, there are already early signs of increasing unemployment for young people, as the unemployment rate for those aged 18-24 was 13.1% in June to August 2020, compared to 10.7% in January to March 2020. There is also clear evidence emerging of disproportionate impacts on staff placed on furlough previously and those being identified for redundancy. Recent evidence from Citizens Advice indicated disproportionate numbers of people who were previously shielding, were parents or carers or were disabled being identified by employers for redundancy.

A “fire break” will have a negative impact on output in Wales, which will further constrain the economic recovery as it entails closing a significant proportion of customer-facing businesses including non-essential retail, hospitality, tourism and creative arts. In 2019 there were approximately 18,800 businesses headquartered in Wales operating under industries that will be told to close under the fire break, with approximately 206,000 employees in total (2018). 

During the two week firebreak the three sectors most likely to be adversely affected are retail, accommodation and food, arts, entertainment and recreation. Their value to Welsh GVA for these three sectors is more than £9 billion, which may equate to around £300 million over the firebreak period (though the actual figure is uncertain as some retail and other sectors will remain open).[6]

Some of the risks associated with closing businesses include:

  • Specific short-term economic harms will take the form of lower incomes and increased unemployment, proportional to length of closure, which in turn will have adverse effects on health and well-being.
  • The nature of employment in the most affected sectors means that effects will tend to worsen inequalities – the most affected tend to be low paid, in insecure employment, and young people.
  • Uncertainty (including about future restrictions, whether the firebreak might be extended or repeated, and about the extent of more permanent changes accelerated by the pandemic) is itself economically damaging, likely to reduce business investment and hence future productivity, and likely to prolong the recession.
  • Long-term / lifetime “scarring” effects on socio-economic outcomes will result – lower incomes, increased risks of unemployment, of poor health and of premature mortality. These effects are likely to disproportionately affect people from disadvantaged backgrounds, widening inequalities over the long term.

In addition to any UK Government package of support, the Welsh Government will set aside a £295m package of automated and discretionary grant support to businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the firebreak.

There is a wealth of survey evidence pointing to the social harms from lockdown measures, including significant negative impacts on mental health and wellbeing. The latest PHW Public Engagement Survey on Health and Wellbeing (5 to 11 October) found that 34% of respondents felt lonely at least occasionally. These harms are particularly acute for the young, and those less able to understand the necessity of a change in routine such as young children or people with autism.

The enhanced measures are limited to two weeks so the mental health impact should not be as great as during the initial lockdown, where the end point was unknown. Exemptions and reasonable excuses to form extended households if you are living alone, and to meet indoors to provide care, should help mitigate against some of the impacts of the measures.

There is likely to be an overall short-term positive environmental impact during the “fire break”. Measures to reduce social interaction since March are believed to have contributed to an increase in air quality (especially in urban areas) and helped reduce health inequalities (given that Covid-19 has had disproportionate impacts on more deprived communities), while at the same time increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness and reducing the economic viability of certain industries (such as tourism and hospitality). Many of these impacts are covered in more detail in other sections of this IIA. Connectedly, the Welsh Government has seen evidence to suggest that when restrictions were first introduced in March it led to an overall decline in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions in Wales.[7]

Welsh Language

The short term nature of the “fire break” means that a significant impact on the Welsh Language is unlikely. In addition, the impacts of restrictions are likely to differ substantially based on the linguistic background of Welsh speakers. For children who are the sole Welsh speaker within their household unit (which is the case for some children who attend Welsh speaking schools) the opportunities to speak Welsh could be severely reduced by restrictions on gatherings indoors and outdoors, especially when coupled with wider restrictions on education and economic sectors. The exact impact of this is difficult to fully understand however, as many speakers will use digital resources as a means to overcome physical barriers to socialise. However, the ability to do so with ease will also be affected by locality (difference in urban/rural broadband connectivity) and age (with older cohorts of the population having lower levels of digital literacy than their younger counterparts).

Rural impacts

Restrictions on indoor/outdoor gatherings and movement could have differential impacts on rural communities in Wales given the particular characteristics of these areas. These communities are more likely to live greater distances from essential services and also have the potential to have more dispersed social networks. A larger proportion of the workforce in these areas are also employed in sectors such as Tourism and Hospitality. An immediate implication of the social interaction related restriction measures earlier this year was the potential for them to increase feelings of loneliness and isolation, and there is some survey evidence that such feelings did increase as a response to coronavirus related measures across the UK.[8]

Since restrictions were first introduced the importance of digital connectivity and literacy has risen in order for households to remain connected with social networks of friends and family and, for many, in order to work remotely in an effective manner. While 95% of homes and businesses in Wales are believed to have access to superfast broadband, the homes most likely to suffer from a lack of broadband connectivity are in rural areas.

[1] 11,815 (50%) completed the 7-11 survey; 11,002 (47%) completed the 12-18 survey; and 671 (3%) completed the accessible survey (ages 7-18)

[2] https://www.childcomwales.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/FINAL_formattedCVRep_EN.pdf

[3] ELGC Committee – Into sharp relief: Inequality and the pandemic

[4] IFS – Learning during lockdown

[5] It should be noted that this figure is only indicative – there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration regarding accuracy: (i) the data is for 2018; (ii) seasonality means some periods of the year may be associated with differing levels of GVA (e.g. Christmas, holiday periods etc; (iii) Some businesses may be able to remain trading; (iv) It is impossible to assess how far output might fall even in the absence of restrictions if people respond to higher disease prevalence by modifying their behaviour; (v) Given the uncertain nature of the estimate a conservative figure is recommended. It should also be noted that the figure is a direct estimate i.e. not including supply chain effects.

[6] Richard Energy & Environment (2020). “Provisional Analysis of Welsh Air Quality Monitoring Data – Impacts of Covid-19.” Available at: https://airquality.gov.wales/sites/default/files/documents/2020-08/Analysis_of_Welsh_Air_Quality_Data_Impacts_of_Covid-19_Final_Issue2.pdf [accessed 18/09/2020]

[7] Mental Health Foundation (2020). Loneliness during coronavirus. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/loneliness-during-coronavirus [accessed 18/09/2020]

Annex A: Equality Impact Assessment: restrictions on gatherings and travel

A time-limited firebreak will impact on equality and children’s rights. These negative impacts are proportionate on the basis of protecting public health and the need to re-set the position on transmission of the virus. 

Stay at home measures can increase demand for support from women or children experiencing abuse and public services to support these groups will remain open. While the measures will have positive impacts on the health of older people and some disabled people with chronic conditions who are vulnerable to Coronavirus, it may further exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Negative impacts on children, families and women in particular, will be mitigated by allowing primary schools, special schools and EOTAS to remain open in the week after half term, permitting access to childcare and keeping playgrounds open. People who live in households earning below the median wage could also benefit from the supplementary emergency support that will be made available through - for example - the Discretionary Assistance Fund.

Protected characteristic or group

What are the positive or negative impacts of the proposal?

Reasons for your decision (including evidence)

How will you mitigate Impacts?

 

Age (think about different age groups)

Positive: There is clear evidence COVID-19 poses a higher risk to older people, therefore measures to bring the virus back under control and reduce transmission will have positive impacts.

 

Negative: The requirement to stay at home – even for a short time – is likely to impact on the mental health of all age groups: older people are most likely to be worried contracting the virus, while people aged 18-29 are most likely to feel isolated. 

 

 

Survey responses highlight younger people (18-29) are most likely age group to be worried about their mental health and to feel isolated.

People over 70 are more likely to be worried about their health and the risks of contracting COVID-19.

The ONS lifestyle survey (May 20) found rates of loneliness were highest among working-age adults living alone (eg. 13% of those aged 16-64 living alone reported chronic loneliness compared to 5% in households with two working age adults). Older people were no more likely to be report being lonely, the highest proportions found for young adults.

Older adults are more likely to be self-isolating and are more worried about getting the virus and becoming seriously ill (PHW wellbeing survey)

Mitigation: The enhanced measures are limited to two weeks so the mental health impact should not be as great as during the initial lockdown, where the end point was unknown. It is however acknowledged that the measures will have a cumulative impact with the restrictions already put in place in Welsh since March

Mitigation: Exemptions and reasonable excuses to form extended households if you are living alone, and to meet indoors to provide care, should mitigate against the worst impacts of the measures.

Mitigation: Physical activity and being outdoors can have a significant impact on reducing loneliness, therefore the reasonable excuse to enable exercise should mitigate to help to mitigate the impact of the measures to some extent.

Disability (think about different types of disability)

Positive: there is evidence that COVID-19 has a significant disproportionate impact on the health of some disabled people and some people with chronic health conditions. Therefore measures to bring the virus back under control and reduce transmission will have some positive impacts for disabled people.

 

Negative: In the earlier phase of the pandemic, some disabled people saw a reduction in their care package from local authorities or other changes in the support available. This impacted on people’s quality of life and wellbeing.

For some disabled people their home may not be a safe space. A stay home requirement may expose them to other harms and may provide an reasonable excuse for others to keep services away. 

Stay home requirements and other restrictions may impact on some disabled people more severely than others. This may be because of the role of routine in helping managing their wellbeing or because of difficulty in communicating or understanding the need for certain restrictions. 

The closure of ‘personal contact services’ also impacted on disabled people – particularly therapeutic services, having a negative impact on physical and mental wellbeing.

Feedback from carers illustrates a lack of specialist provision for certain groups, such as those caring for some with a learning disability, autism, or dementia, who are less able to understand and cope with disruption to routines.

Coronavirus and Me reported disabled children and young people were more likely to report a negative impact on their mental health and that the closure of services was having a big impact on how they felt.

Restrictions of movement may disproportionately impact on disabled people. There may be limited safe, appropriate space at home or in their immediate vicinity and travel to a more distant location may be necessary. Any limitation of the frequency of outside visits will impact on some disabled people more significantly. In its report into inequalities and the impact of Covid-19[1], the ELGC Committee noted that disabled people are particularly affected by social distancing and the changes to our built environment.

 

 

Mitigation: Exemptions and reasonable excuses to form extended households if you are living alone, and to meet indoors to provide care, should mitigate against the worst impacts of the measures.

 

Gender Reassignment (the act of transitioning and Transgender people)

No specific impact identified

No specific evidence identified

N/a

Pregnancy and maternity

Negative: A range of issues have been identified for pregnancy and maternity as a result of lockdown. These have ranged from influencing the decisions of women whether to have natural births if their partner is not present, to difficulties with breastfeeding.

The babies in lockdown survey reported that just over a quarter (28%) of those breastfeeding feel they have not had the support they required. Over half of respondents were breastfeeding (55%), but over half of those using formula had not planned to do so (53%).

The babies in lockdown report noted almost half (47%) of parents reported that their baby had become more clingy. One quarter (26%) reported their baby crying more than usual. The numbers of those reporting increases in babies crying, having tantrums and being more clingy than usual was twice as high amongst those on the lowest incomes than those on the highest.

This report also reported that 6 in 10 parents shared significant concerns about their mental health.

Mitigation: Critical public services and childcare (including Flying Start) will remain open during the firebreak and will provide support to this group.

 

Race (include different ethnic minorities, Gypsies and Travellers and Migrants, Asylum seekers and Refugees)

Positive: COVID-19 has been shown to have a disproportionate impact BAME people, therefore measures to bring the virus under control will be of particular benefit to this group.

Negative: The BAME COVID-19 Socio Economic Sub Group report highlighted issues of overcrowding in homes for BAME people. A requirement to stay home will disproportionately impact on people living in overcrowded conditions.

 

Range of different evidence on the disproportionate impact on BAME community (e.g. ONS, BAME advisory group for WG). Coronavirus and Me reported:

BAME children and young people are more likely to be living in overcrowded and poorer housing which makes staying at home and learning at home more difficult.

BAME children and young people reported that the restrictions affected their ability to keep a healthy body and mind, and how limited space or living in over-crowded housing had made this harder.

Mitigation: Exemptions and reasonable excuses to form extended households if you are living alone, and to meet indoors to provide care, should mitigate against the worst impacts of the short term measures.

 

Religion, belief and non-belief

Negative: Places of worship will close during the fire break. This will negatively impact on people with religious beliefs.

Positive: Communal worship is a gathering which brings together a number of people who often know each other as a result of shared activity over time. Indoor gatherings have a known higher risk. In many faiths congregations include a high level of older people with associated risks. Lockdown will protect participants from a route of exposure to the virus.

 

Mitigation: Broadcast of services without congregations will be allowed under the restrictions.

 

Sex / Gender

Negative: The closure of certain sectors will have a disproportionate impact on women. More broadly, there is good evidence from the earlier part of the pandemic that the additional caring responsibilities arising from the pandemic, including childcare, fall disproportionately on women. This will impact on some women’s ability to work and their health and wellbeing. There is concern this will also have a longer term impact on women’s careers and job progression. 

There is evidence of increased demand for support with VAWDASV following the national lockdown. Any measures telling people to stay home and limiting the places where they could go and potentially make a disclosure will increase those risk and limit the scope to access help or support.

Women are the majority of those providing care, paid and unpaid and the majority of health workers and are more likely than men to deliver unpaid care at home (Women’s Budget Group, Covid-19: Gender and Equality Issues)

Working carers, who will have to balance local services returning and caring for a vulnerable person. (Carers UK)

Mitigation: the ability to access childcare – or for single parents to form an extended household - seeks to mitigate against the disproportionate impact on women of the requirement to stay at home.

Mitigation: the Welsh Government will ensure key services can continue to operate, including on a face to face basis during the circuit breaker (for example, social services, VAWDASV services and Flying Start)

 

Sexual orientation (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual)

Negative: impact of being required to stay home for some people, whose families were not negative about or hostile to the individual’s sexual orientation. A requirement to stay home may reintroduce these issues.

N/A

N/A

 

Marriage and civil partnership

No specific differential impacts identified.

 

People who were married or cohabiting were less likely than average to feel lonely (chronic and ‘lockdown’ loneliness) (ONS opinions and lifestyle survey, May 20)

N/A

 

Children and young people up to the age of 18

See UNCRC assessment above.

 

 

The top two issues for children (12-18) relating to restrictions are ‘not being able to spend time with friends’ (72%) and ‘not being able to visit family members’ (59%) (Coronavirus and Me survey)

See UNCRC assessment above.

 

Low-income households

Negative: The firebreak measures are likely to exacerbate difficulties for low income households struggling with childcare or care needs, as well as addressing higher levels of isolation and worries about mental health

Public Health Wales Wellbeing survey: those living in the most deprived areas of Wales are more likely to be self-isolating, be feeling anxious and isolated during coronavirus restrictions, and report greater worries about their mental health

N/A

 

 

[1] ELGC Committee – Into sharp relief: Inequality and the pandemic

Annex B: Equality Impact Assessment of business closures

The requirement to close businesses will have a negative economic impact on people who earn less than the Welsh median. Many sectors affected will have a disproportionate impact on particular groups such as women (close contact services and non-essential retail), BAME (hospitality and transport services) and younger people (hospitality).

Protected characteristic or group

Assessment of impact: positive or negative

Reasons for your decision (including evidence)

(Proposed) mitigating action

Age (think about different age groups)

Negative: Younger cohorts of the population are significantly more likely to work within the hospitality[1] sector in Wales than older cohorts, therefore these provisions could have a negative impact. This cohort currently represents the age group most at risk from an economic downturn.

Analysis by Welsh Government of Annual Population Survey (APS) data for 2019 shows that 46% of all in employment in pubs and restaurants in Wales are under the age of 25 (while this age group only represents 12% of all in employment).

Mitigation: In addition to any UK Government package of support, the Welsh Government will set aside a £295m package of automated and discretionary grant support to businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the firebreak.

Disability (think about different types of disability)

Negative: The disabled population in Wales represent a higher share of employees within the hospitality sector than they do in the workforce as a whole. Disabled people have also experienced greater economic disadvantage as a result of the pandemic, being more likely to be furloughed and to be identified for redundancy.

Analysis by Welsh Government of APS data for 2019 suggests that disabled people are more represented in this sector in Wales, with 19% of those in employment being classified as disabled (this group represents 15% of the all in employment).

Mitigation: In addition to any UK Government package of support, the Welsh Government will set aside a £295m package of automated and discretionary grant support to businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the firebreak.

Gender Reassignment (the act of transitioning and Transgender people)

No differential impact identified

 

 

Pregnancy and maternity

No differential impact identified

 

 

Race (include different ethnic minorities, Gypsies and Travellers and Migrants, Asylum seekers and Refugees)

Negative: BAME population more likely to work within the hospitality sector in Wales than white population.

Negative: the closure of certain sectors will have a disproportionate impact on BAME people. There may also be particular adverse impact on BAME businesses that sell specialised cultural foods – such as ethnic cuisine who already struggle to maintain customers because of the scarcity of food products.

Negative: The closure will also adversely impact on Windrush and BAME Elders who have reported isolation and advancing anxiety, depression and mental health difficulties linked to being locked down and isolated in homes away from their community members or family.

Positive: BAME groups may be disproportionately at risk of negative health outcomes should they contract Covid-19, which should be considered for both staff and customers of the sector.

Welsh Government analysis of APS data for 2019 estimates that 12% of those in employment in pubs and restaurants in Wales are BAME (while this group only represents 5% of the all those in employment in Wales).

Mitigation: In addition to any UK Government package of support, the Welsh Government will set aside a £295m package of automated and discretionary grant support to businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the firebreak.

Religion, belief and non-belief

No differential impact identified

 

 

Sex / Gender

Negative: the closure of certain sectors will have a disproportionate impact on women. For example, the proportion of hospitality sector employees who are women is slightly higher than for Welsh workforce as a whole.

Women also more likely to have reported reduced levels of mental wellbeing as a result of not being able to continue normal social interaction.

Welsh Government analysis of APS data for 2019 estimates that 50% of those in employment in Wales within pubs and restaurants are female, while females represent 47% of all in employment in Wales.

Survey findings suggest women may benefit from resuming ‘normal’ social interaction such as a meal with friends or family/extended family, which may promote psychological wellbeing.

Mitigation: In addition to any UK Government package of support, the Welsh Government will set aside a £295m package of automated and discretionary grant support to businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the firebreak.

Sexual orientation (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual)

No differential impacts identified

 

 

Marriage and civil partnership

No differential impact identified

 

 

Children and young people up to the age of 18

See UNCRC assessment above.

 

See UNCRC assessment above.

Low-income households

Negative: The nature of employment in the most affected sectors means that effects will tend to worsen inequalities – the most affected tend to be low paid, in insecure employment, and young people.

 

See for example, provisional data for 2019 from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings provides estimates for hourly and weekly gross pay by 2-digit SIC codes in Wales. For Food and Beverage Service Activities (SIC code 56) median gross hourly pay was £8.28 which was £3.91 lower than the Welsh median for all employee jobs of £12.19. For weekly gross pay in this sector the median is £197.30, approximately £243.50 lower than the Welsh median.

Using the same data at least 80% of employees in Food and Beverage Service Activities are estimated to have lower gross hourly pay than the Welsh median.

Mitigation: In addition to any UK Government package of support, the Welsh Government will set aside a £295m package of automated and discretionary grant support to businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the firebreak. It is acknowledged that this is only a partial mitigation because the UK scheme will only provide two thirds of a person’s wages.

 

 

[1] “’Hospitality’ sector and #pubs and restaurants’ are both defined as Sic 56.1: Restaurants and mobile food service activities and SIC 56.3: Beverage serving activities

Annex C: Equality Impact Assessment of requiring students in years 9-13 in schools and FE to stay at home for a further week after half term

Primary age children and year 7 and 8 will be in school after half-term, minimising the impact on their education and the wider wellbeing impacts. Special schools and EOTAS provision will also resume after half term. However, older children and young people, years 9 and above will not be in secondary school or FE (unless for the purposes of sitting exams) and this is anticipated to have a disruptive impact, particularly on protected groups.

Protected characteristic or group

What are the positive or negative impacts of the proposal?

Reasons for your decision (including evidence)

How will you mitigate Impacts?

 

Age (think about different age groups)

Positive: primary age children and year 7 and 8 will be in school after half-term, minimising the impact on their education and the wider wellbeing impacts. Learners attending special schools and those receiving EOTAS will also continue to receive education after half-term in line with normal arrangements for this provision. 

Negative: older children and young people, years 9 and above will not be in school or FE and this is anticipated to have a short term disruptive impact, particularly on protected groups.

 

Mitigation: The fire break has been timed to coincide with half-term to minimise to the greatest possible extent the disruption to children’s access to education to only one week.

Disability (think about different types of disability)

Positive: special schools will remain open and caring for disabled learners with the greatest support needs. Disabled children in primary and year 7 and 8 will also continue to be in school and have access to all the support which enables them to participate fully in school life and their education. 

Negative: for disabled children in year 9 and above, they will not be in school or FE for a week. They will not have access to the range of specialist support available in school. While they are not at school, children are less likely to be able to continue to progress in their learning compared to non-disabled peers in the absence of that help.

There is extensive evidence of the negative impact of not being in school on learners with ALN, many of whom are disabled, during the initial lockdown. That has also had knock on impacts for their families, including siblings.

The more vulnerable children in society are likely to be affected the most. This is expected to be the case among a range of vulnerabilities. For example, those with SEND (special educational needs and disability) are very likely be adversely affected. A Department for Education (DfE) (2020) report found that the risk to vulnerable children’s welfare increased significantly as a result of school closures in 2020.

Evidence from Mencap shows that people with learning disabilities already face extreme levels of social isolation and loneliness, likely to be exacerbated by the closure of educational facilities.

Mitigation: The fire break has been timed to coincide with half-term to minimise to the greatest possible extent the disruption to children’s access to education to only one week.

Gender Reassignment (the act of transitioning and Transgender people)

No differential impacts identified

 

 

Pregnancy and maternity

No differential impact identified

 

 

Race (include different ethnic minorities, Gypsies and Travellers and Migrants, Asylum seekers and Refugees)

Positive: primary age children and year 7 and 8 will be in school after half-term, minimising the impact on their education and the wider wellbeing impacts. Learners attending special schools and those receiving EOTAS will also continue to receive education after half-term in line with normal arrangements for this provision. 

Negative: Closing schools and FE or limiting contact time at a site with a teacher will have a disproportionate impact on some BAME children. 

There are particular disadvantages for children from refugee and asylum seeker families and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families that they do not have access to devices or connectivity to be able to access learning online. Furthermore, families are less equipped to be able to offer help and address technical issues.

 

 

There is evidence from engagement with communities that some BAME families have not returned their children to school. One of the reported reasons being fear of the children being exposed to the virus in school and bringing it home and vulnerable relatives becoming unwell. It is possible the fire break will further exacerbate this trend, this may even apply children who are allowed to be in school because the decision to limit access to schools will heighten concerns about safety. This will disadvantage those children who are not in school.

From the Coronavirus and Me children’s survey and other evidence it is more likely that BAME children will have less space and quiet at home to work due to family structures and over-crowded accommodation. They are more likely not to have access to a device to do work online or to have to share a device. They are more likely to have more limited support from their families with school work either as a result of other pressures on their time or language and other barriers. Their families may also face wider pressures as a result of the impact on their parents’ jobs or income which may make the home environment more stressful and impact on their wellbeing as well as affect their ability to concentrate on school work.

Mitigation: Remote/blended learning will be in place for all students who are not allowed to go to school, however this may have limited efficacy for children in low income households. There are practical barriers to being able to learn effectively in terms of access to devices, space and quiet, as well as challenges for parents in supporting children with school work, based on the response ot the Coronavirus and Me survey. 

Religion, belief and non-belief

No differential impacts identified

 

 

Sex / Gender

No differential impact identified

 

 

Sexual orientation (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual)

No differential impacts identified

 

 

Marriage and civil partnership

No differential impact identified

 

 

Children and young people up to the age of 18

Impact assessment table refers to this group only

 

 

Low-income households

Positive: primary age children and year 7 and 8 will be in school after half-term, minimising the impact on their education and the wider wellbeing impacts. Learners attending special schools and those receiving EOTAS will also continue to receive education after half-term in line with normal arrangements for this provision. 

Negative: Closing schools and FE to year 9 and above and limiting contact time face to face with a teacher will exacerbate socio-economic disadvantage. Even a relatively short period of time, combined with previous disruption can have a negative impact in relation to missed learning and

Based on evidence including the Coronavirus and Me children’s survey, it is more likely that children in poverty will have less space and quiet at home to work. This is particularly applicable in some BAME communities with people living within multiple occupancy properties and in properties shared by asylum seekers, refugees or low income BAME people. They are more likely not to have access to a device to do work online, to have to share a device or have limited data availability to access resources and support online. They are more likely to have more limited support from their families with school work either as a result of other pressures on their time or their own capacity. Their families may also face wider pressures as a result of the impact on their parents’ jobs or income which may make the home environment more stressful and impact on their wellbeing and mental health as well as affect their ability to concentrate on school work. We continue to receive concerns, particularly from refugee and asylum seeker families and Gyspy, Roma and Traveller families that they do not have access to devices or connectivity to be able to access learning online. Furthermore, families are less equipped to be able to offer help and address technical issues.

Mitigation: Remote/blended learning will be in place for all students who are not allowed to go to school, however this may have limited efficacy for children in low income households. There are practical barriers to being able to learn effectively in terms of access to devices, space and quiet, as well as challenges for parents in supporting children with school work, based on the response ot the Coronavirus and Me survey.