Weekly Poll – Scotland’s Five Tier COVID-19 Protection Levels (Week Beginning 23 November 2020)

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue.  For the week beginning 23 November 2020, we asked a question about Scotland’s five tier COVID-19 protection levels.


Do you have any concerns about the five tier COVID-19 protection levels? (for example: support available, how changes have been communicated, access to essential supplies) 

  • YES – 63% (41 respondents)
  • NO – 37% (24 respondents)


We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.


Many people are taking on extra caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older. The introduction of the protection levels across each local authority area has made it difficult for some people to continue providing support.

“It challenges me as my care is in another tier, as is some family support.”

“I am concerned about vulnerable, older family members who I am unable to visit to check on their well-being.”

“The restrictions on visiting, especially at care homes, but also for families, is having an unimaginable effect on thousands across the country.”

“Unpaid carers are on their knees and can’t get through this. They are exhausted.”


It is essential that support is available for people who were shielding during the height of the first wave of the pandemic, as well as for people who are not in the official shielding category, but still at high-risk from COVID-19.

“In all protection levels people in the shielding category have been left with little or no support.”

“It seems unnecessarily complex and disadvantages those shielding and with disabilities (again).”

“Support must be readily available for people in need.”

“I think that how to access support and what support is available should be publicised more often, more so if the tier level in your area changes.”

Essential Supplies

The Scottish Government state that priority access to online supermarket delivery slots will continue for anyone who had signed up before August. However, some disabled people are still struggling to access food and other essential items.

“Many disabled people are still not being considered as priority for online supermarket shopping in Scotland.”

“We are 8/9 months on since the beginning of the pandemic and disabled people are still struggling to obtain basic food items.”

“I am disabled, and I now have to wait on deliveries of food, which takes days or a week to arrive!”

Young People

There were concerns from some respondents about the impact of the ongoing restrictions on young people and how this is affecting access to education.

“I feel younger children especially under 12 are suffering from this the most. I live in a tier 4 area myself and the school is closed. It has messed up my son’s routine with no support offered apart from a learning journal online.”

“I fail to understand how Special Educational Needs (SEN) children with heightened anxiety are expected to function normally in a busy school environment with strict regimen. How are autistic children expected to understand the changing rules, and adapt to the constantly changing environments? Why is there no leeway for this? Why is there no ability for remote learning during this time, without the threat of losing their placement as enhanced learning resources? The children with disabilities have not only been overlooked, they are being discriminated against.”


Some respondents recognised that in order for the protection levels to be effective, the general public must comply with the rules.

“These tiers, to be effective also rely on personal responsibility and a sense of consideration by the average human being.”

“The tiers make sense, but will people stick to it?”

“If everyone would obey the rules, there would be no need for severe lockdowns. Very hard on those who have kept to the rules, especially the elderly, over 36 weeks.”

“The whole system seems to be well thought out and I believe should work well.  My only concern is allowing the relaxation of the rules over the Christmas period. The only saving grace is that the First Minister stated that it is wiser to maintain normal physical distancing as per the levels for the areas where we live, and hopefully the majority will have the sense to do that.”


Disabled people shared their concerns about Scotland’s five-tier COVID-19 protection levels. As the levels vary across the country, some people are concerned about being unable to check-in with friends and family. It is vital that continued support is available to people in the shielding category and people who are at high risk from COVID-19. This includes ensuring that disabled people have access to essential supplies through priority delivery slots. Some respondents highlighted the impact of the ongoing restrictions on young people’s access to education. To ensure the protection levels are effective, the general public must adhere to the guidelines.

Disability Equality Scotland, December 2020