Coronavirus: Britons believe reopening pubs and letting university students return was a mistake, survey claims

YouGov poll based on responses from 1,700 adults in the UK 

Rory Sullivan
Friday 02 October 2020 15:35
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Staff pour drinks at a pub in London Bridge on 24 September, 2020, the day the 10pm curfew was introduced.
Staff pour drinks at a pub in London Bridge on 24 September, 2020, the day the 10pm curfew was introduced.

Britons believe that the government was wrong to reopen pubs and to permit students to head back to universities for the start of the academic year, according to a new survey.

The finding comes after a new 10pm curfew for pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues was introduced and after hundreds of students were forced to self-isolate in their rooms following Covid-19 outbreaks at a number of British universities.

In a survey of 1,700 adults, YouGov found that 46 per cent of respondents thought that reopening pubs at the beginning of July was a mistake, compared with 41 per cent who backed the decision.

The poll, which was conducted between 29 and 30 September, also suggested that 45 per cent of people think it was unwise for the government to allow the return of students to university, with 40 per cent of those surveyed disagreeing with them.

However, the public backed the lifting of all other lockdown restrictions they were asked about in YouGov’s survey, concluding that it was right to launch the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and for pupils to have returned to school.

Conservative voters were much more likely to agree with the government’s actions than Labour supporters, according to YouGov.

The biggest area of difference between the two sets of voters was over whether staff should return to their workspaces, with 68 per cent of Conservative supporters and only 31 per cent of Labour backers in favour. 

Although the government had previously sought to encourage workers to return to the office, Boris Johnson announced a U-turn on 22 September by telling people to work from home where possible. 

In the same speech addressed to MPs in the House of Commons, the prime minister also said that pubs and other venues would have to close their doors at 10pm as a way of limiting the spread of coronavirus.

When pressed about the reasons behind the decision, housing secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: "The advice that I received, along with other ministers, was that, because the virus thrives on close contact between individuals, the longer one stays in pubs and restaurants and cafes, inevitably, the more likely it is that the virus will spread.”

"And, the later that you stay and the more drinks that you have, the more likely you are to have close contact with other individuals and the less likely you are to comply,” he added.

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