Coronavirus: Almost three in four Britons ‘very nervous’ about leaving homes after lockdown, poll finds

Survey suggests return to full economic activity ‘may not be as quick as hoped’

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Tuesday 28 April 2020 11:41
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Coronavirus: Most affected countries around the world

Almost three-quarters of Britons say they will be “very nervous” about leaving their homes when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, a poll has found.

Of 14 major countries surveyed, the UK was the most cautious about relaxing restrictions introduced to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

Some 70 per cent of Britons said they opposed reopening the economy if the illness is not fully under control, compared to 61 per cent in Spain and Australia, 59 per cent in the US, 53 per cent in Italy and 50 per cent in Germany.

Pollster Ipsos Mori​ said its findings suggested that any revival in the economy following the lifting of lockdown “might not be quite so fast as hoped for”, with Britons reluctant to go back to the offices and shops.

The figures emerged as ministers discussed moves – expected to be outlined by Boris Johnson later this week – to ease the UK out of lockdown when scientists are confident the first wave of coronavirus has passed.

It is thought this could start with the reopening of non-essential shops and workplaces where two-metre distancing rules can be observed, with schools waiting longer to return and public transport users advised to use scarves or homemade masks to cover their mouths.

The poll findings suggest that Mr Johnson was wrong to anticipate public resistance to official efforts to strip them of “the ancient inalienable right of freeborn people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub”.

And they indicate that demands from Tory backbenchers for an early resumption of economic activities may not chime with public opinion.

Far from champing at the bit to return to normal social life, Britons appear to be looking for confidence that the danger from Covid-19 has passed before venturing outside.

Some 71 per cent said they would feel “very nervous about leaving my home”, even if businesses were allowed to reopen and travel resumes, with just 26 per cent saying they would not

(Ipsos Mori

More people said they would be nervous in Japan (77 per cent), India (78) and China (72).

But there was more confidence in Germany – where 52 per cent said they would not be very nervous and just 44 per cent would. In Italy, 45 per cent were not very nervous, while 49 per cent were and in France, 32 per cent were not very nervous and 63 were.

While just 23 per cent of Britons said the economy should be restarted and businesses allowed to open even if the virus is not fully contained, 60 per cent said this should be allowed to happen in Russia, 58 per cent in China, 53 per cent in Italy and 50 per cent in Germany.

Ipsos Mori’s head of political research, Gideon Skinner, said: “Our latest polling across 14 countries show that Britons are the most cautious when it comes to reopening the economy, being the least keen for businesses to reopen if the coronavirus is not contained.

(Ipsos Mori

“Furthermore, seven in ten Britons say that they will be nervous about leaving the house after the lockdown eases. These suggest that the turnaround in the economy might not be quite so fast as hoped for.”

Ipsos Mori questioned a total of 28,000 adults, in Canada, the US, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and the UK between 16 and 19 April.

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