Reported by Third Force News – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media. 

Disabled people have reported being spat on as they struggle to cope with physical distancing.

A new study released by Disability Equality Scotland reveals 99% of disabled people have experienced difficulties with distancing during lockdown.

The poll, which generated more than 900 responses, was carried out in collaboration with the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) and posed the question ‘During your daily exercise or when undertaking essential journeys, have you experienced any issues with physical distancing?”

Key concerns related to infrastructure, with pavements not being wide enough, nor equipped to deal with disabled peoples’ needs even without the added complication of retaining a two-metre distance.  Pavement parking further exacerbated this issue as did street clutter such as bins or street furniture; an issue Disability Equality Scotland raised recently in response to the proposed amendment in the Coronavirus Bill at stage 2.  Food shopping also remains challenging for disabled people especially as increased numbers of people return to the shops, disabled people felt more at risk.

However, it was the responses relating to the attitude and behaviour of members of the public towards disabled people that sparked the greatest concerns.  The poll revealed the extent to which disabled people have been approached and accused of breaking lockdown or questioned why they are making essential journeys by members of the public.  The perception is clearly that all disabled people should be shielding, and at worst; are potentially ‘infecting others’ by being outside.

One respondent said: “I was spat at yesterday for asking someone to clear my space.”

The poll results also indicate mistreatment by transport staff refusing travel to disabled people, many of whom are key workers trying to carry out their day-to-day lives.

Morven Brooks, chief executive of Disability Equality Scotland, said: “We are very concerned at the numbers of disabled people who have experienced this type of hate crime.  It is of great concern how this new ‘normal’ will impact the long-term mental health of many people, especially our attitudes towards one another.  Please be kind, courteous and thoughtful of others, we don’t know yet how long this new ‘normal’ will last!”


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