Public overwhelmingly backs the government’s new measures to tackle coronavirus

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 24, 2020, 8:54 AM GMT+0

Two thirds of Britons say it’s going to be easy to follow the new rules for the next three weeks

Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced stricter measures to tackle the COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) outbreak. The new rules effectively require all Britons except those who can’t work from home to remain indoors unless they are buying food, exercising, or seeking or giving medical assistance.

A snap YouGov survey, conducted overnight, finds that the public overwhelmingly support these new measures. Fully 93% of Britons back the move, including 76% who say they “strongly support” it.

While the vast majority of all social groups support the move, women are more likely to strongly support it than men (82% vs 70%), and older Brits are more likely to do so than younger Brits (85% of those aged 65 or more compared to 60% of 18-24 year olds).

The Prime Minister said that these new measures would be in place for the next three weeks, after which time they would be reviewed.

Three weeks indoors, except for food shopping and exercise? Easy peasy, say two thirds of Brits

The results of the survey also show that two thirds of Brits (66%) believe it’s going to be easy to get through the next three weeks under these conditions. Four in ten (42%) told us they thought it would be “fairly easy”, while an optimistic 24% believe it will be “very easy”.

Only 29% say they think it will be hard, including 7% who are expecting it to be “very hard”.

There is little to set the genders, age groups and social grades apart when it comes to how difficult they think it will be to stay largely cooped up for three weeks.

Brits split on whether new police powers will be enough to ensure compliance

Police are empowered to fine anyone who is not complying with the new rules, and will also be able to disperse gathering of more than two people. Britons are divided on whether these powers will be sufficient to get people to follow the rules – 39% think they are and 39% think they are not.

Like the public as a whole, most social groups are closely split on whether or not the new police powers will be enough. Young people are a notable exception – 49% think they are sufficient compared to 34% who think they are insufficient – a 15 percentage point gap.

Those who voted Lib Dem in 2019 tend to be more sceptical than the rest of the electorate: 46% think the powers won’t be enough, compared to 37% who think they will be, a nine-point difference.

Over the course of this crisis the government have shown themselves willing to introduce stricter rules if the ones currently in place are not working. If the fines and dispersal orders do not improve the situation, then we may see tougher measures still. A separate YouGov survey conducted yesterday found that 82% of Britons would support the police being able to arrest or prosecute anyone who should be self-isolating but isn’t.

Photo: Getty

See the full results for the snap survey here: support/opposition to measures; easy/hard to follow measures; and police powers sufficient/insufficient

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