More than half of British public will miss elements of Covid restrictions

54% of those polled expect to miss aspects of lockdown such as being close to family, quieter roads and time at home

Ella Glover
Wednesday 24 March 2021 11:32
<p>Thirty-two per cent of people said the past year has been similar to or better than average for them personally</p>

Thirty-two per cent of people said the past year has been similar to or better than average for them personally

More than half the British public will miss some aspects of the past year’s coronavirus restrictions, a survey has found.

Research by Policy Institute at King’s College London and Ipsos Mori revealed that around 54 per cent of people will miss some parts of lockdown, including family time, quieter roads, and being at home.

Nineteen per cent of the 2,442 adults polled said the last year had been better than they expected it to be when the first lockdown was announced, with younger people aged 16 to 35 twice as likely as older adults to agree with this. 

However, 52 per cent of the public think the pandemic will have a negative long-term effect on young people. Twenty-two per cent believe there will be no impact and 10 per cent think their prospects will improve. 

The research, part of a wider study with BBC News, also found that 32 per cent of people felt the past year has been similar to or better than average for them personally and 12 per cent of say their mental health will improve due to the pandemic.

Fifteen per cent of people believe their physical health will be better.

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People have enjoyed being closer to their family, friends and neighbours throughout the pandemic, with 28 per cent feeling closer to their immediate family, 19 per cent to their neighbours and 31 per cent to their friends. 

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “There is no doubt that the public would rather the pandemic hadn’t happened at all - but that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad for everyone, or that people see it deeply affecting their future.

“What’s striking from the findings are the significant minorities for whom the last year turned out better than expected, or even better than a normal year.”

He added: “Looking forward, there are majorities who say that their own finances, career prospects or life overall will be either little affected by the pandemic or that these will actually improve.

“Of course, many have been severely negatively affected, and the findings reinforce a key theme of the pandemic, that while the measures to control the virus have applied to everyone, their impact depends hugely on your own circumstances.”

Almost half of the public felt the last year had been worse than expected, with women and those over 65 more likely to feel this way, and 43 per cent expect their mental health to worsen due to the pandemic

A minority of 21 per cent said their finances have improved since the pandemic while more than a third said their financial situation had worsened.

Prof Duffy said that there will be some “important knock-on effects of the lockdown” which many of us will miss, such as time at home with families.

The research found that some people plan to continue with some habits they formed in lockdown, with 30 per cent saying they will shop locally more and 38 per cent saying they plan to walk more post-pandemic.

Gideon Skinner, research director at Ipsos Mori, said British people expect the pandemic will lead to long-term changes but there is less consensus on what these changes could be.

There is also “some stoicism” among the public about their personal lives returning to near normal when restrictions are lifted.

He added: “Nevertheless, there are areas that stand out as potential priorities for the recovery: the impact on young people (although sometimes it is the middle-aged who are most pessimistic), on physical and mental health, and on careers and finances and while there is more optimism that we can recover from the immediate hit of the pandemic, people still need convincing that Britain will become a much better country than it was before.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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