Fifth of adults 'have had indoor contact with someone outside their bubble'

13 November 2020, 23:35

People say they have met in indoor settings including pubs and restaurants
People say they have met in indoor settings including pubs and restaurants. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A fifth of adults in Britain had direct contact indoors with someone who was not from their household or support bubble at the beginning of November, in contrary to public health advice, a survey suggests.

Some 22% of adults polled said they had had physical contact with at least one other person when socialising indoors in the previous 24 hours, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.

This was in settings such as private homes, cafes, pubs or restaurants, excluding those in their household or support bubble, and is a similar proportion to the week before (24%).

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Examples of direct physical contact may include shaking or holding hands, hugging, and making contact when passing objects, the ONS said.

It said the results do not necessarily suggest people were defying guidance, because it would include situations such as people accidentally briefly touching when being handed a take-away.

The ONS questioned adults about their behaviour between November 5 and 8 as part of its Opinions And Lifestyle Survey, receiving 4,378 responses.

Public health messaging throughout the coronavirus pandemic has consistently advised people to try to keep a distance from those not in their household or bubble.

A four-week national lockdown for England was imposed on November 5.

Over the survey period, Wales was also on a national "firebreak" lockdown, and Scotland had five-tiered "local protection levels".

People were asked about their behaviour over the past 24 hours, so the data also covers the day before England's lockdown was imposed.

Of 4,190 respondents in England, 19% said they had had direct contact with between one and five people who were not in their household or bubble while socialising indoors.

A quarter (25%) of adults aged 50-69 said they had physical contact while socialising indoors with someone who was not part of their household or bubble.

Those aged 70 and over were least likely to report this (17%), while 23% of 16 to 29-year-olds said they had done so.

More than a third (36%) of those polled said they had not had direct contact with anyone outside their household or bubble while socialising indoors.

Respondents were also asked how many people outside their household or bubble they had been in "close proximity" with indoors in the past 24 hours.

This includes settings such as private homes, shopping, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Some 30% said they had been in close proximity with at least one person.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Our message is clear - everyone has a role to play in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus by following the rules, remembering 'hands, face, space' and getting tested and self-isolating if they have symptoms.

"We know that these rules are difficult for everyone, but reducing social contact is the most important factor when driving down transmission and helping to protect you and your friends and family."