Coronavirus: Most Brits think it is wrong to start ending lockdown, poll finds

21 April 2020, 15:29

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a piece of street art depicting an NHS worker
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a piece of street art depicting an NHS worker. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

The majority of Brits think it would be wrong to start loosening lockdown measures now and are not sure whether it will be right to do so in three weeks' time, according to a poll.

YouGov asked the public how they think the government should bring an end to the coronavirus lockdown.

While the public has been more comfortable than expected about the mass disruption the virus has caused, the government could face difficulties if there is a perception that restrictions are being loosened too quickly.

Only five per cent now think it is the right time to start loosening measures, compared to 88 per cent who think it is the wrong time.

In terms of process, there is a broad consensus among the public that restrictions should be loosened gradually (74 per cent) compared to all at once (18 per cent).

People want to prioritise reopening of schools, followed by encouraging non-essential workers to go back to work.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted on Sunday morning that "no decision has been made on when we will reopen schools".

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"I can reassure schools and parents that they will only reopen when the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to do so," he added.

More broadly, the public want the government to prioritise "helping the economy by allowing more people to go back to work", 78 per cent.

This is compared to 14 per cent who wanted the government to prioritise "giving people more freedom to leave their house in their free time”.

At the bottom of the list of people's priorities are things such as allowing people to meet in small groups, allowing large events (such as sports games, or festivals); or reopening pubs, bars, and restaurants.

But there are large age differences on the findings with 18 to 24-year-olds being four times more likely than over 65s to wanting to prioritise giving people more freedom than helping the economy - 31 per cent to 5 per cent.

When asked about when pubs and restaurants would be back in business, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said: "The other inference that I draw from your question, which is that areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown - yes, that is true, they will be among the last."

It comes after several reports over the weekend about an alleged "traffic light system" approach to relieving some of the lockdown measures. Mr Gove denied that the reports were true.

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