Two-thirds of Brits would feel uncomfortable at mass gatherings, new poll reveals

Joe Gamp
·Contributor, Yahoo News UK
·3 min read
A long queue of people wait outside of Waitrose in Brighton as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A new survey shows there is clear unease at other consequences of the lockdown ending. (PA)

Two-thirds of Britons would feel uncomfortable attending large public gatherings, like sports events or concerts after the UK’s coronavirus lockdown measures are eased, a new poll suggests.

The UK is in its sixth week of social distancing restrictions, with the government announcing on April 17 that measures will be kept in place for “at least” another three weeks, with a SAGE review set for May 7.

However, a recent survey conducted by Ipsos Mori suggests 61% of Britons would feel uncomfortable carrying out activities such as going to bars or restaurants or using public transport if lockdown is eased.

The survey, based on the results of 1,066 British adults aged 18-75 online between April 24 and 27, showed it is young people who are most at ease with going to bars and restaurants, with 36% of 18-34-year olds saying they would feel comfortable doing so.

Police officers patrol the beach front at Portobello, in Edinburgh, Scotland,  as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Sunday April 26, 2020. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes. (Andrew Milligan / PA via AP)
The government is set to review social distancing measures on May 7. (PA)

Meanwhile, only 22% of those aged between 55-75 would be comfortable doing daily activities, suggesting growing a sense of nervousness when social distancing measures are relaxed.

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And while 3 in 10 - or 29% - feel comfortable going out to eat and drink, only 21% would be happy to use public transport to get there.

Around half are comfortable when it comes to shopping; 51% would be at ease with shopping in a supermarket while 49% are happy to go to other shops. However, a further 43% say they will feel uncomfortable shopping in other shops.

Keiran Pedley, Research Director at Ipsos Mori said: “The public are looking forward to seeing family members again in person and a clear majority are comfortable doing so. However, there is clear unease at other consequences of the lockdown ending.

“In particular, clear majorities of Britons are nervous about using public transport again or going to bars, restaurants or live music and sporting events. These numbers suggest that it will take some time for parts of the British economy to return to any semblance of normality, even after lockdown has ended.

The polling comes as Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, of Cambridge University, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government’s stay at home advice has been “slightly too successful”.

 A general view of Big Ben from Westminster Bridge during the Corona virus pandemic. Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work. Around 50,000 reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United Kingdom and 5,000 deaths. The country is in its third week of lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. (Photo by Rahman Hassani / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Around 61% of Britons would feel uncomfortable carrying out activities such as going to bars or restaurants or using public transport, if the lockdown is eased. (Sipa)

He said: “It’s much harder to frighten to people to stay at home than it is to reassure them they can go out again. Maybe our whole campaign has been, if anything, slightly too successful.”

Sir David also warned against taking a “Eurovision approach” and making “naive comparisons” in contrasting the UK with other countries’ COVID-19 deaths.

“I think it’s too early to tell our exact place in the league table,” he continued.

“My article was arguing against this almost Eurovision approach of trying to say who’s top, who’s second and so on. It’s just not appropriate to do at all.

“There are so many variabilities about how people record COVID deaths – even what the correct metric is for measuring the impact of the epidemic – that to start saying we’re going to be worse or whatever is completely inappropriate.”

Boris Johnson suggested measures to ease the current coronavirus lockdown, which are yet to be announced, could include wearing masks.

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