The Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit, WHO Collaborating Centre on Investment for Health and Well-being, Public Health Wales published ‘A Health Impact Assessment of the Staying at Home and Social Distancing Policy in Wales in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Summary‘ on 22nd June 2020.
Following on from this, the Main Findings report and Supplementary Information report have been published today, which provide a comprehensive appraisal of the Welsh Government’s ‘Staying at Home’ policy on the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales and the evidence utilised to support the findings. These two reports complete the reporting for the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) carried out.
The HIA outlines the potential health and wellbeing impacts of the Staying at Home and Social Distancing Policy (commonly referred to as ‘Lockdown’) on the population of Wales in the short, medium and long term. It draws upon learning from international evidence, latest data and intelligence and the views of expert stakeholders.
According to the HIA, the Welsh Government’s ‘Staying at Home’ policy has reduced the spread of coronavirus, but has also had other positive and negative impacts on the wellbeing of Welsh society, affecting virtually all aspects of life in Wales.
Positive impacts of the policy include increased levels of volunteering, communities coming together to protect those who are more vulnerable, and a reduction in vehicle traffic leading to reduced pollution and improved air quality. In terms of negative impacts, the economic downturn has reduced income and increased unemployment, with low income households being most affected; this is despite national support measures such as furloughing of employees.
The HIA aims to help inform organisations in their response to the pandemic by identifying where action is needed to mitigate against negative impacts and enhance positive impacts. It also aims to inform pandemic recovery strategies, with the overall aim of improving population health and wellbeing and reducing inequity.