Weekly Poll – Covid Safety Signage Scheme (Week Beginning 11 April 2022)

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 11 April 2022, we asked a question about a Covid Safety Signage Scheme that is currently being developed by the Scottish Government. This will allow businesses, public and third sector organisations to download and display signage that indicates which protective measures they have in place in their particular building after these measures are no longer required by law. These may include: face coverings, regular opening of windows and doors, enhanced hygiene measures, maximising use of outdoor space (among other protective measures).

Results

Question. Would you feel more comfortable visiting a setting that was displaying Covid Safety Signage?

  • Yes – 67% (48 respondents)
  • No – 33% (24 respondents)

Comments

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

Reassurance

Just over two-thirds of respondents (67%) stated that they would feel more comfortable visiting a setting that displayed Covid Safety Signage. It was noted by respondents that continued safety measures would provide some level of reassurance when accessing public spaces. This was of particular significance for disabled people who are at high clinical risk, some of whom may have previously been shielding during the pandemic.

“As an extremely medically vulnerable person, I’ll continue to use masks and hand sanitiser well into spring and possibly into summer. Any encouragement to have others do likewise is welcome indeed.”

“It means a lot to me that businesses continue to require their customers to wear masks, use the Protect Scotland app, and so forth. I caught Covid 3 times over the pandemic, and it cost me about a year of my life from the fallout. Even with vaccines I’m still very anxious about catching it again. Every measure that can be taken to reduce transmission will make me more comfortable.”

“As a person on the highest risk list and the removal of the laws concerning Covid-19 safety measures, I am extremely concerned about going out and about now. So, if there was signage to say there was still safety measures being taken it would be very reassuring.”

“Whilst I accept that it is important to move on from Covid it is still very much an issue and there are many people who have concerns about this after being advised to shield at the start of the first lockdown. So, venues displaying Covid safety signage could be a major help.”

“Absolutely, I would feel a lot safer. I do struggle at present where nothing is displayed and do not go into a lot of places because of this.”

“I agree some things should be kept in force. It may even bring in more customers if they know the place is still following rules that somewhere else isn’t.”

Accessible Formats

To ensure the Scheme reaches as many people as possible, it is important for key messages to be available in a range of accessible formats and distributed through a variety of communication channels. This includes embedding accessibility best practice in the design of the signage, such as concise messaging that avoids jargon, using a clear plain font, and ensuring there is sufficient contrast between the text and background colours.

“The signage would need to be visually clear and if the information could also be online that would be a bigger bonus as it means I could check out the measures in place before leaving the house to go out.”

“I would seek adjustments for those with sensory, hearing and vision barriers.”

“How will someone who is blind be aware of the measures that are in place?”

“Signage which is clear before entering stores would be a huge benefit.”

“Design the poster to be clear and accessible. This can help to ensure that a larger number of people are aware of the measures and respond appropriately.”

At Disability Equality Scotland, we have the expertise to convert information into Easy Read. Our professional and efficient Easy Read service is delivered to all sectors as part of our commitment towards improving access to information for all. In addition, we deliver an Easy Read training course which aims to give individuals and organisations the skills and knowledge to produce basic Easy Read documents. The course is delivered through a series of online modules designed to allow participants the opportunity to challenge existing knowledge, to explore practical examples, to experience converting complex document content and to reflect upon and evaluate the process. Further details of the Disability Easy Read translation service and Easy Read training course, can be found at: www.disabilityequality.scot/easy-read

Enforcement

Some respondents questioned how effective the Scheme will be if there are not appropriate measures in place to monitor compliance. As such, it was suggested that businesses may sign up to the Scheme as a tokenistic gesture and fail to implement any further safety measures.

“As well as the signage it would be reassuring to know that anyone in the premises not obeying the rules (and therefore putting others at risk) would be dealt with appropriately in these environments.”

“Unless there is someone checking companies are continually telling the truth, I feel many will be showing a token gesture but not maintaining all possible measures.”

“Because a shop /business has a sign up does not necessarily mean they are taking any additional steps to be Covid safe.”

“Venues are assessed online via questions but how truthful will they be. Pubs and clubs etc have lost so much that many of them will do anything to make sure that they get customers in through their doors.”

“I do question whether businesses will implement the guidance that they will have on display. Some monitoring of this would be useful.”

Face Coverings

Respondents shared specific comments about the use of face coverings. Some disabled people who are at high clinical risk were concerned that face coverings are no longer a legal requirement and felt at greater risk when going out in public.

“My main concern is that masks will soon not be required in shops etc and that stopping compulsory mask wearing will put me at more risk. I am in the highly clinically vulnerable group.”

“As someone who was shielding, I feel we still need masks in crowded spaces. I hope businesses make this clear and support this message.”

When face coverings became mandatory in public settings during summer 2020, disabled people in the exemption criteria experienced bullying, harassment and hate crime. This was specifically where members of the public had approached and accused disabled people of non-compliance, despite having genuine medical exemptions. This caused disabled people anxiety and impacted their mental and physical health. In some cases, disabled people were deterred from going out and accessing essential food and supplies because of the fear of being confronted for not wearing a face covering. Respondents shared their experiences of being challenged by retail staff and members of the public for not wearing a face covering, despite being medically exempt.

“I am exempt from wearing face masks and I was asked to leave a shop in Edinburgh this morning even though I had my exemption badge on as normal. I was asked by a staff member if I could wear a visor and I said that wasn’t possible due to my disability and other health issues, and I was asked to leave. I felt humiliated and disgusted with the policy, my first time out for months, all the joy of being out with me was taken away.”

“If some businesses still want their customers to wear masks, then they need to ensure that medical exemptions are not forgotten about.”

“I am mask exempt but still worry about being refused entry from shops that don’t drop the mask rule.”

At Disability Equality Scotland we have administered the distribution of the Scottish Government Face Covering Exemption Card. The aim of the project is to give disabled people confidence and something tangible to show if challenged, as well as raising awareness of exemptions. More information about the face covering exemption card can be found at: www.exempt.scot

Personal Responsibility

A portion of respondents did not believe that it was necessary to introduce a Covid Safety Signage Scheme and it should be left to the discretion of the individual with regards to the precautions that they take.

“It’s going overboard with all the rules. It’s been a very long 2 years etc and I think it’s time to get on with life.”

“The Covid Signage Scheme is unnecessary; it is time to live with Covid and move on we don’t need such signage only common sense”

“Adults should take responsibility for their own Covid measures according to what they feel. Children should be supervised by an adult with regards their Covid safety.”

“We are trying to learn to live with it. The signs will keep the fear within society.”

“Realistically, all the measures that the Government have felt the need to mandate over the past 2 years are common sense practices that most people adhered to anyways. Signage is a complete waste of money, and the money could be much better spent on actual priorities.”

Conclusion

The majority of respondents stated that they would feel more comfortable visiting a setting that was displaying Covid Safety Signage. This was particularly reassuring for disabled people who are at high clinical risk. It was noted that in order to ensure that the public follow such guidance, it needs to be communicated in a clear and concise manner, using a range of accessible formats and promoted across a variety of channels. However, a portion of respondents believed that some businesses may only sign up to the Scheme as a token gesture and without any form of monitoring, there would be no way to determine whether additional safety measures had been introduced. Specific comments were shared about face coverings, with some respondents stating that if businesses do recommend continued use of face coverings, then there must also be an awareness and understanding of people who are medically exempt.