Britons enjoying cleaner air, better food and stronger social bonds say they don’t want to return to ‘normal’

Poll suggests only nine per cent of public want full return to pre-lockdown life

Vincent Wood
Friday 17 April 2020 18:32
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UK coronavirus lockdown extended for three weeks, says Dominic Raab

Only nine per cent of Britons want to return to life as normal after the end of the lockdown triggered by coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll.

The spread of the virus has led to some of the most dramatic interventions in daily life across the country since the Second World War, with people forced to remain in their homes except for exercise and essential shopping.

Yet a YouGov suggests many people see positives amid the crisis.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they had noticed cleaner air, and 27 per cent said they had recognised more wildlife since the lockdown began.

Forty per cent said they felt a stronger sense of community in their local area since the virus shut down “normal” life, while 39 per cent said they had been more in touch with friends and family.

The survey – commissioned by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) and the Food Foundation charity – suggests an overwhelming majority hope to see some personal and social changes continue following the pandemic, with fewer than one in 10 wanting a full return to how things were before.

Some 42 per cent of the 4,343 adults surveyed said they now valued food more – with one in ten sharing with a neighbour for the first time.

But while 9 per cent said they felt fitter and 27 per cent were getting more exercise, more than 36 per cent said their physical activity had been curtailed.

Professor Tom MacMillan from the Royal Agricultural University, and research lead for the commission, said: “This data shows there is a real appetite for change, and for the nation to learn from this crisis. People are trying new things and noticing differences, at home, in their work and in communities. This is really apparent when it comes to food, farming and the countryside, the issues the commission is focused on, but clear in other areas too.

“Alongside the emergency response, it is important to keep track of these changes in what we’re doing and our collective mood, to help shape the kind of country we want to be, including the way want to feed ourselves, when we recover from this pandemic.”

It comes after survey results suggested 1.5 million across the UK had gone hungry since the outbreak began, with a range of issues including access to funds and an inability to get items from shops leading a growing number of people to access foodbanks.

Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, said: “The same poll that revealed this appetite for social change highlighted an alarming and worsening food insecurity crisis, with three million in Britain going hungry since lockdown began.

“These figures create an imperative for reshaping the food system post-Covid-19 so that it delivers healthy diets for everyone, regardless of how much they earn.”

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