Survey suggests Britain is becoming less scared about Covid-19
Is Britain becoming less scared about Covid-19? ONS data shows nine in ten adults left their home last week – with only 29% now feeling unsafe when outside
- Loosening lockdown rules and summer weather have seen numbers of people leaving home rise
- There has been a dramatic fall in the proportion of people who say they feel unsafe when they go outside
- Almost a third of adults say they have worn face masks or coverings when venturing outside
- Some 36 per cent of people say they have met friends or family from other households while outdoors
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Britons appear to be less scared of coronavirus than they have been in months as figures show nine out of 10 adults ventured out of their homes last week.
Office for National Statistics data revealed that, between May 21 and May 24, 90 per cent of people left their homes, up from 86 per cent the week before.
As lockdown rules continue to loosen and the weather heats up, more and more people are venturing outside after weeks confined to their own homes except for essential trips.
Officials warn the elderly and people with long-term health problems should still be ‘shielding’ themselves at home to avoid catching the virus.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that, from Monday, most people will be permitted to meet in groups of up to six people as long as they stay outdoors and maintain social distancing.
The number of people who said they feel unsafe when they go outside has fallen dramatically from 41 per cent to just 29 per cent in a week.
Almost eight in 10 said they were confident they had enough information about how to protect themselves from Covid-19 – despite no proven treatment or vaccine in place.
The most common reasons for going out continue to be for shopping, exercise, work and medical needs.
But leisurely trips are on the rise – 42 per cent of people said they had been to a park or green space in the last week and 36 per cent met friends or family while out.
Over half of adults (55 per cent) said they were now open to the idea of meeting with someone outside of their household, as long as it was outdoors.
The survey also found:
- Almost a third (29 per cent) of adults said they had used masks or face coverings within the past week;
- Two thirds of adults are still worried about Covid-19 affecting their life – but this dropped from 85 per cent at the peak of the outbreak
- As the lockdown drags on, loneliness has become more common at the end of May than at any other point since March;
- 73 per cent of people are still following the strict lockdown rules and leaving home only to exercise, go shopping or to work;
- Nine out of 10 people (88.3 per cent) are still in favour of lockdown and support the Government’s rules. 5.8 per cent had no strong feeling, while 5.2 per cent oppose them;
- Three quarters of people have seen their household income fall because of the coronavirus;
- People are becoming more optimistic about when life will return to normal, with 44 per cent thinking it will last six months or more, compared to 48 per cent last week.
The ONS survey was carried out on 1,028 adults from across Great Britain who were questioned between May 21 and May 24.
The biggest takeaway from the data was that people seem to be getting more relaxed about the lockdown rules and the effect Covid-19 is having on their lives.
This lines up with positive messages emerging from the Government – that the numbers of new cases and deaths are continuing to trend downwards, and that it is time to start returning to a semblance of normality.
Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that schools and some shops will be allowed to reopen next week, and people will be able to meet up in groups outdoors.
More high street businesses are expected to be able to reopen in two weeks’ time, provided there are no signs of the virus bouncing back.
The ONS report said: ‘The proportion of people that said they had either not left their home or only left for the four main reasons that were permitted through the lockdown period is at its lowest level of 73 per cent.
‘This compares with 81 per cent last week and a peak of 85 per cent between 3 to 13 April.
‘The largest increase in other reasons for leaving the home, is for people meeting others outside their household in a public place.’
It added: ‘Across Great Britain, just under three in 10 adults (29 per cent) said they felt unsafe or very unsafe when outside of their home which has decreased from 41 per cent last week.
‘At the time of the survey, lockdown restrictions had started to change in England.
‘For those living in England, feelings of safety varied for different activities outside of the home.
‘While over half of adults (55 per cent) felt safe when meeting with someone outside of their household outdoors, this fell to around one in three who felt safe when visiting shops (37 per cent).’
The survey data, which quizzes Britons about how the coronavirus and lockdown is affecting their lives, comes after Boris Johnson last night announced a further loosening of the rules would start on Monday.
He confirmed that primary schools would be permitted to open to some students and some outdoor retailers – such as car showrooms – can start to reopen. More shops are expected to return to business later in June.
People will also be able to meet up in groups of six friends or family, as long as they stay outside and stay 2m (6’6″) apart from anyone who doesn’t live in their home.
After two months of stringent restrictions, long-awaited changes will mean many grandparents can see their children and grandchildren for the first time in two months – while groups of friends or family members can gather for a summer barbecue.
But members of different households will be told to stay two metres apart, they will not be allowed to hug and they won’t be allowed to stay over.
The Prime Minister said the measures would provide a ‘long-awaited and joyful moment’ for many as they were reunited with their loved ones.
Mr Johnson said all five tests required to move to the next phase of the lockdown had been met, adding: ‘That is not my achievement or the Government’s achievement – it is your achievement, only possible thanks to your resolve and dedication to our national purpose to overcome this virus.’
An upbeat PM revealed yesterday that the draconian restrictions are being eased slightly from next week, as he formally reduced the country’s Covid ‘alert’ status from four to three.
Despite warnings from chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance that 8,000 new infections are still happening every day and admitting making the rules more nuanced will create ‘anomalies and inconsistencies’, Mr Johnson unveiled a series of changes to take effect in England from Monday.
Up to six people from different households will be allowed to mix. They will also be permitted to use gardens and private outdoor spaces, which was previously banned.
Non-essential shops and primary schools will start to reopen from next month, as had been suggested earlier in the week.
Mr Johnson told the daily Downing Street briefing: ‘I cannot and I will not throw away all the gains we have made together. So the changes that we have made are limited and cautious.’
The premier said there was no question of people being given permission to stay overnight, or spend time in other homes. However, he added: ‘We want people to be able to see their friends and family. We want people to be able to see both parents at once.
‘You could even have a barbecue provided you did it in a socially distanced way.’
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty confirmed that people can go to the toilet in other people’s houses if they come to visit, but it was ‘absolutely critical’ that they wiped everything down afterwards and washed their hands rigorously.
The bigger than expected move comes despite concerns having been raised in Cabinet that a ‘barbecue clause’ could lead to a fresh flare-up in infections.
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