Arbitrary 70+ age discrimination

I believe that it would be quite wrong to maintain lock-down for people aged 70 and above, simply on the grounds of age. As one whose 70th birthday was just a few days ago, I regard this is as potent nonsense. I am as well/unwell as I was a week ago and, therefore, as highly or as little vulnerable to infection as then.

I quite understand the statistical evidence that gives rise to the suggestion of prolongation. Would it not be far more sensible, however, to base prolongation of lock-down on a simple concept: "Have you had any medical condition requiring GP intervention or hospitalisation within the past (say) five years? If so, and you are aged (say) 70+, stay locked-down."

Why the contribution is important

There is a clear school of thought that all people over 70 may be required to remain socially isolated for longer than is the case for younger ages. This arbitrary ageist notion takes no account of general health and fitness. A more nuanced solution is required.

by JamesB on May 05, 2020 at 02:15PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.0
Based on: 81 votes


  • Posted by Sue24 May 05, 2020 at 14:20

    Age discrimination in other circumstances is illegal. It should be here. Let the more senior members of our community decide for themselves whether they want to continue to self-isolate or continue lockdown. I know lots of very spry over70s.
  • Posted by susansutherland May 05, 2020 at 14:21

    I agree that an arbitrary age limitation is wrong and should be based on general health of the person.
    We have a significant number of over 70s in our running club and they are fitter than many younger members.
    Also a large number of over 70s continue to work and contribute to our economy; many running their own businesses.
  • Posted by PaulWG May 05, 2020 at 14:23

    I agree 100%. People must be treated like adults. Educate us of the risk, inform us of the current situation, but don't enforce arbitrary, all sweeping restrictions.
  • Posted by JohnStewart May 05, 2020 at 14:38

    Almost impossible to enforce.
  • Posted by Barbaram May 05, 2020 at 14:39

    There are very many very fit 70 year olds who are still competing at their chosen sport and do much better that people a lot younger. Do not discriminate purely by age.
  • Posted by Oldskidog May 05, 2020 at 14:39

    Posted by Oldskidog
    I am 77 and just returned from winter season in BC Canada skiing with the Super Seniors. Many a younger individual would be hard pushed to pass us on the slopes. Many younger people don’t keep fit throughout their lives, over eat with the wrong diet, smoke heavily and drink too much. Consequently many don’t even see 70!!!
  • Posted by Louisethomson20 May 05, 2020 at 14:40

    Do we know for certain that younger people are less likely to get infected and transmit? I think we may encourage and continue to support people who need to continue shielding but to think we can go back to normal life if we keep our over 70s inside is very selfish.
  • Posted by Ann May 05, 2020 at 14:43

    Age alone should definitely not be reason for remaining in lockdown . Underlying health conditions are more important. There are some extremely fit over 70’s out there whose mental health would suffer greatly if they were forced to remain indoors
  • Posted by GordonF May 05, 2020 at 14:43

    I agree with those who say that applying more restrictive rules to those who are 70+ is wrong in principle. However if there are to be some restrictions, such as those suggested by the OP, then it would be necessary to be clear on what is meant by, for example, a "medical condition requiring GP intervention or hospitalisation within the past (say) five years" since this is capable of very broad interpretation. If possible I would prefer a qualification that was directly related to the effects of Covid-19. Someone who has had, for example, a hernia operation in the last five years would fall within the category suggested by the OP, although this would almost certainly have no bearing on how such individuals would respond to Covid-19. I would also like to see publication of the detailed data relating to those who are 70+ and who contract Covid-19, including their admittance to ICU and death rates, in a way that distinguishes age factors from other relevant conditions such as obesity, and other pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Posted by Applecr0ss May 05, 2020 at 14:45

    I am absolutely happy to stay in lock down, especially if it saves lives. I personally think that people who are using age discrimination as an argument are exceedingly selfish, do they not realize that this is for their own good as well as the wider general public of all ages? I am 73 and do not feel at all as if I am being discriminized against, just grateful that we have a caring government!
  • Posted by Absport May 05, 2020 at 14:47

    Yea, very difficult not to see this as discrimination
    But demographic information is not really included, canes see more of this
  • Posted by Carol May 05, 2020 at 15:02

    Complety agree, staying in lockdown shouldn't be about age itself
  • Posted by william May 05, 2020 at 15:05

    I understand there are a lot of fit 70 year old people Perhaps the age limit could be lifted to over 75. I think that health issues still need to be considered if lifting the age from 70
  • Posted by allan May 05, 2020 at 15:24

    Whilst it’s easy to say there are plenty of fit and healthy 70 + year olds out there which is perfectly true. I don’t think that’s the issue. As we age, our immune system becomes less effective at fighting off viruses regardless of how healthy that person may be, so the risk remains unfortunately. I do agree we all need to be adult about this and let people make their own descisions when the time comes.
  • Posted by harviej May 05, 2020 at 16:55

    I am a healthy 73 yer old. I walk at least 3 miles every day. I don't remember when I last had a cold or any other ailment. Why should I be put into the same category as a frail 95 year old?
  • Posted by Tia444 May 05, 2020 at 17:56

    Agree - the arbitrary 70+ is discriminatory. There are 70+ year old healthier than 40+ year olds!
  • Posted by Lewis May 05, 2020 at 18:01

    I believe that it would be quite wrong to maintain lock-down for people aged 70 and above, simply on the grounds of age.
  • Posted by CHill May 05, 2020 at 20:12

    There is NO separate LOCKDOWN for people aged 70+. They have just been given additional guidance to be vigilant with social distancing measures as the Immune System tends to diminish as we get older.
    Some media have whipped up a nonsense raft of confusion - the people who are in the 12 week Lockdown for medical reasons have received specific letter about that.
  • Posted by LAM May 05, 2020 at 22:00

    No age discrimination or health based discrimination please! People must be allowed to take risk based decisions for themselves if they are capable of doing so.
  • Posted by maureensmokey May 05, 2020 at 23:28

    Agree no lockdown for over 70s
  • Posted by JenDee81 May 06, 2020 at 07:40

    Obesity seems to be a far bigger risk factor, but there is no intention to lock up obese people arbitrarily. My parents are 70+ and go to the gym 3/4 times a week (normally) and are incredibly fit and healthy with good, Mediterranean diets. It is outrageous to say they must be kept in, but a 40 year old who is obese and does no exercise is allowed to come out of lock-down.
  • Posted by Colin99 May 06, 2020 at 11:17

    I believe that it would be a very bad move to put an arbitrary age limit of 70 on social movement. I myself am 70 years old and pretty fit with no serious health conditions. I know many people younger than me who have health conditions that should see their movement restricted, and many significantly older than me who are as fit as a fiddle. To arbitrarily discriminate in this way would be socially damaging and would do next to nothing to help the situation. There are countless examples of non compliance with rules right now and it would be more productive to give some official attention to this issue than targeting a specific age group that is pretty certain to act responsibly and observe the rules. From personal experience, it is much more evident that younger people tend to ignore the rules and gather in groups etc. Give our senior citizens a break, don't take the easy way out by picking an arbitrary age limit and be more creative about how you and we move forward. A significant increase in testing capacity to ensure we know who is infected and who isn't would help.
  • Posted by djm May 06, 2020 at 12:51

    I am deeply concerned that any prolonged restrictions on movement should be based on age. Many over 70’s like myself are fit and have responsibilities for older disabled relatives who do not qualify for any support or care or it has been suspended due to COVID 19. Prolonging restrictions on older people who support these vulnerable people will make a bad situation worse.

    Also, like many other hillwalkers, I would also appreciate the opportunity to resume hillwalking for my own physical and mental wellbeing. After lockdown there will not be the same rush to rural spots as there was at the beginning. The low numbers of people in our Scottish hills and glens easily accommodates social distancing. Discretion amongst older people will ensure that risky expeditions are not undertaken which might result in a full mountain rescue response.

    Harsh restrictions on the activities of older persons in Scotland simply on the basis of age will have unintended consequences and lead to erosion of trust and undermine the present support in tackling this dreadful pandemic.
  • Posted by mthom30 May 06, 2020 at 13:11

    A different perspective to this, the WHO advice about age restrictions applies to people who are over 60 , not 70, and indeed the FM herself declares that over 65's not over 70's are at most risk.
    This is because of immune response diminishes with age, as a previous post has declared, and less to do with being fit.
    At the moment under lock down, it is easy for over 65's to keep pretty isolated from the population, however when lock down is over we will be forced back to the work place, I, and many other people of this age group are in full and part-time employment unable to retire, either due to financial constraints or due to rises in pension age . Many in this age group have to rely on public transport and spend a substantial proportion of our working day commuting, for myself this can be up to 3 hours each day.
    I am very concerned about returning to workplace,especially as my workplace includes colleagues who commute by public transport from all over the central belt. Based on experiences at the start of the pandemic, my workplace will not be keen to make any concessions for people who are older, and/or rely on public transport. Most employer's value profit over staff well-being
  • Posted by LorraineMC May 06, 2020 at 13:41

    This needs to be assessed based on health not age. My 79 year old mum still roller skates but is meant to be shielded! She is currently mowing the lawn of her elderly neighbour who’s 75!!
  • Posted by The_Guru May 06, 2020 at 13:45

    I believe it is totally wrong to discriminate against anybody based on age. Many older people are healthy and perfectly able to go out and about and contribute to society.
    We must take the mental health of people of all ages into consideration, I believe people have the right to use their common sense.
    it is important for people of all ages to get out and meet up with family and friends.
  • Posted by harviej May 06, 2020 at 17:10

    I do hope the politics and health "experts" are going to read all these comments
  • Posted by rst May 06, 2020 at 17:30

    Easy to say but difficult to do is to assess each person’s risk on an individual basis taking into account their age, health and general fitness.Then allow the individual to weigh up the risk and benefits for themselves.Most people regardless of age would take the safest and most responsible option for themselves.There will always be individuals regardless of age who take the irresponsible option and this is what will impact the NHS and take up valuable resources when they become unwell.
  • Posted by yhten May 06, 2020 at 19:01

    If choosing an age at all, what is the objective evidence that identifies 70? Why not 65 or 75?
    No matter the age chosen, presumably this means that anyone who crosses the threshold during the period of lock down goes from enjoying albeit limited freedoms to internment overnight, even though his/her situation hasn’t changed in terms of risk?
    Why are other groupings based on criteria other than age whose characteristics are suspected of incurring higher risk e.g. male obesity not also identified and targeted for lock down? (This does not include those with serious underlying heath conditions.)
    ‘Perfect Storm’
    Both the research literature and clinical practice clearly demonstrate the severe psychological damage that can be incurred through isolation, especially if long and open ended. This can lead to PTSD, psychosis, in the limit suicide and difficulty reintegrating for those who make it through. There is also demonstrable proof that the detrimental impact on mental health results in or exacerbates physical conditions such as Cardiovascular disease and Altzheimer’s.
    These effects are to be seen in all ages but will be most acute in the elderly. They will exacerbate the so called ‘Hidden Pandemic’ that could follow Covid-19 which could in turn overwhelm the NHS.

  • Posted by lizann May 06, 2020 at 19:36

    I agree. It's age discrimination.
    Older people should be allowed to make decisions,
    I'm sure they would be sensible enough to self isolate if feeling unwell and wear masks going out incase they are asymptomatic
  • Posted by Caledonian May 06, 2020 at 19:57

    This is a new virus and as a result no one exposed to it had any anti body resistance to it.
    As scientific data has emerged and patterns are analysed it appears that the elderly are most at risk as immune reactions are reduced by age. This is scientific fact established over years not just with a Covid 19. Given this situation it is reasonable for Government to offer specific guidance to the elderly and adopt a risk averse strategy. As more data is gathered around the age demographic of those suffering from the disease it may well be that there is no homogenous aged population and that healthy older people do not feature highly in those seriously affected by the disease. If this proves to be the case then lift restrictions and change the guidance . Until this becomes clearer then all older people are at higher risk if they contract the disease, let’s follow the science ,this is not age discrimination but age concern
  • Posted by Mk1975 May 06, 2020 at 20:14

    Shield the elderly and vulnerable as they are making up the highest level of deaths and integrate the others back into a new normal. Tobacco, alcohol and obesity cause strain on the NHS and kill thousands each year but we’ve not banned them. Allow schools to go back as studies are showing children aren’t at risk and don’t transfer the disease to adults so no danger there. This will halt the future disparity in education between those children receiving virtual lessons and those not. Also those completing theirs lessons and those not. This allows the gradual introduction of people to the workplace which will stop future generations suffering tax burdens and loss of jobs. All of the above improves mental health of nation. Also stops the prioritising of elderly and infirm over people waiting with existing illnesses such as cancer and stops the future health time bomb were creating.
    Basing our current plans on guesses is a hugely dangerous way to go about this.
    Why the contribution is important

    Stops creating a future health time bomb that could kills thousands and re starts economy which stops future inequality as well as social issues and will go some way to stopping a tax burden on future generations.
  • Posted by DP May 06, 2020 at 20:41

    This is more about protecting the 70+ year olds so by all means recommend but do not enforce. Let them assess the risks and decide for themselves.
  • Posted by WSR May 06, 2020 at 22:05

    People can choose whether to shorten their lives by smoking. Over 70s should be allowed to make lifestyle decisions for themselves. To do otherwise would be an age discrimination/human rights/civil liberties issue.
  • Posted by Abdnshiremum May 07, 2020 at 07:53

    A strict cliff edge at 70 might be a bit unfair but I know lots of young colleagues in their 20s and early 30s who are less risk to me (mid 40s) and are staying in small flats with no garden access. I’d welcome restrictions being lifted off them first as science and fairness supports it and maybe this might mean that we would lift things by age (20-35, then kids, then midlifers etc). People over 70 are comparing themselves to people in their 60s which is fair enough but people in their 20s are not at risk and are staying in to protect others - we need to appreciate their efforts and let them out as soon as possible.
  • Posted by snapier May 07, 2020 at 11:04

    Agree - shielding should be brought into place for all ages, to allow fit people over 70s to carry on as normally as possible
  • Posted by irene108 May 07, 2020 at 11:27

    Surely the over 70's are smart enough to recognise whether they are fit and well enough to start engaging in normal life.
  • Posted by aloneinthehills May 07, 2020 at 18:21

    No room for age discrimination in Scotland. Treat the elderly with respect and allow them the same freedoms as the rest of the population.
  • Posted by Ideas81 May 08, 2020 at 07:46

    Not all over 70s have same risk level. Provide information and allow people to assess themselves. Support those who want to continue isolation by keeping them socially connected and ensure they can get food and medicine delivered. For those who want to go out ensure that it is safe for them to do so (face protection, high levels of cleaning etc)
  • Posted by WilfredLawrieNicholasJohnson May 08, 2020 at 09:10

    Got nothing to do with fitness. Plenty fit people have died from this across all age groups. Unfortunately there is an age category that would be more likely to suffer ill health and therefore require greater medical intervention and hospitalization. This is a resource we also need to protect and therefore we must protect the most vulnerable.
  • Posted by seventyplus May 08, 2020 at 11:27

    As others have said, the point about age is that our immune system weakens - and it would not be practicable to test all the over 70s (or over 75s, or ...) to check which are still fit and strong: so we just have to pick an age, recognising that, like all age-based rules, it will be a very rough and ready guide. But the reason for restricting the over 70s is not just to protect them (if it was, they should indeed be allowed to decide for themselves whether to take the risk); it is to protect the over-stretched NHS from a surge of cases, since the over 70s are statistically much more likely to need hospitalization and intensive care.
  • Posted by Johnlee May 08, 2020 at 12:31

    There should be no enforced age based discrimination but I have no objection to recommendations for older age groups. I am in my mid-70s, fit, active and healthy and have no intention of catching Covid-19 but want to decide for myself what risks to run within a framework applicable to the entire population.

    I am not aware of any evidence that older people are more likely to catch or spread the infection than younger ones. I accept that even fit older people are likely to be more seriously affected as a result of a weaker immune system but want to decide for myself about taking this risk. As regards the burden on the NHS if I become ill, society does not prevent people engaging in risky activities such as motocross, horse riding or smoking because they may end up in hospital and this same civil liberty should be extended to the over 70s.
  • Posted by hillsman May 08, 2020 at 17:59

    There should not be any age discrimination. I am 73 years of age and go hill walking every week. Treat the over 70's as a responsible sector of the population and allow them to carry on as normally as possible.
  • Posted by geraldwiley May 08, 2020 at 20:50

    We are pretty much only locked down to protect the over 70's, costing the working people their jobs and livlihoods.
    The over 70's need to be grateful
  • Posted by Crougar May 09, 2020 at 10:47

    Age is a protected characteristic and yet ageism is again emerging in public discourse. It is inappropriate, and discriminatory to use an arbitrary age number as the single determinant to blanket categorise . People do not age homogenously but rather heterogeneously. The highest number of fatalities do occur over 75 but this resonates with the incidence of deaths in care homes That does not put other members of the age group at the same level of risk. Of course other comorbidities may be more prevalent and exacerbated by age but there is a need for more of a nuance of the data. Many 70 + year olds maintain good health and have no underlying condition(s). Such individuals should be given the opportunity to assess the risk and make informed choices.
  • Posted by wnobrien May 09, 2020 at 21:24

    If your are in good health and virus free over 70’s should not be discriminated against. Evidence is coming to light it is not the over 70s transmitting the virus, it is coming from others that are interacting with them. Also, staying indoors without proper ventilation contributes to the transmission. There are outstanding citizens and should not be treated as prisioners.
  • Posted by Skylark3 May 10, 2020 at 07:59

    If this were to be implemented (and I believe it won't), it would be a clear indication that we are governed by lazy idiots.
    I am nearly 80 and fitter than many 20 and 30 years younger.
  • Posted by bstrata May 10, 2020 at 13:25

    There probably needs to be some context in here.

    A leading statistician just today has said that the risk for a 90+ is roughly 10,000 times that of an under 15, with the risk roughly doubling for every 5 years.

    1 in 100 90+ have died, that puts your odds of 70-74 dying at 1 in 1600. So I'm sure if you are fit and healthy chances are you would land in the 1599, while the odds are likely shorter for those who are obese or have other pre-existing conditions.

    But there is an undeniable age effect at play. At what odds would you be uncomfortable heading out the door?

  • Posted by activeandvibrant May 10, 2020 at 16:00

    Have posted at length on this on other ideas pages so will not repeat. No room for age discrimination in any democracy. We are extremely active and busy participating in a range of activities etc etc and will continue to do so once these draconian restrictions lift. We contribute - and always have - to the wider community and the economy as volunteers and consumers. We are perfectly healthy. Incarcerating us is the surest way to kill us - and no I am not being melodramatic. We have noticed a big difference in our mental health - anxiety, really down days already - and that is in weeks not months. This has had an effect on physical health too - lack of motivation etc. Staring at a screen all day is no substitute for actually having a life! Do NOT discriminate on age grounds!
  • Posted by AngelaBenzies May 10, 2020 at 20:56

    Removing the right to live a full life effectively risks destroying the health and fitness of those 70+. This is an arbitrary figure and represents age discrimination, which is illegal.
  • Posted by truescot May 11, 2020 at 11:20

    Read the research - age (regardless of physical health) is by far the biggest factor in increasing the probability of death. A fit 80 year old is ten times more likely to die than a 49 year old with chronic heart disease![…]/1
  • Posted by Brett May 11, 2020 at 19:46

    Advice to the most vulnerable must be clear and support available throughout. As rules are relaxed this support should continue to ensure those who require it, receive it. Age is a factor in both recovery and death from covid and can't be ignored.
  • Posted by WendyG May 11, 2020 at 21:52

    While accepting that age is a big factor in covid-19 severity and recovery rates, this group should not be kept under what is effectively house arrest.

    Easing of lock-down restrictions should take this group into account, allowing them to visit family and friends, should they wish - and advising how best to do these things as safely as possible.

    While we're all restricted, it's much easier to accept - but if Grandma aged 66 can visit the grandchildren, but Grandpa, who just turned 70 in lock-down can't, it will feel very unfair.
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