Mask use among 18-24 year olds slumps following Freedom Day

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 26, 2021, 12:16 PM GMT+0

Other age groups still wearing face coverings at about the same rate

With face coverings no longer essential following the loosening of restrictions in England on 19 July – dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ – YouGov’s COVID-19 trackers show that mask use has fallen significantly among the youngest Britons.

While the majority of 18-24 year olds (58%) had worn a mask in the previous two weeks when we asked a few days before 19 July, the latest survey (conducted 21-22 July) shows that this figure has since fallen to 46%.

Other age groups remain largely as likely to wear masks as they were before Freedom Day, including 66% of 25-49 year olds, 73% of 50-64 year olds and 83% of those aged 65 and above.

As well as being increasingly maskless, young Britons have been far more likely to find themselves in crowded situations since 19 July. While last week 38% of 18-24 year olds had been avoiding crowded places, this has now fallen to 26%. This compared to a more modest drop among 25-49 year olds (from 47% to 42%) and little to no change among those aged 50 and above.

With young people less likely to be fully vaccinated (21% according to our latest tracker data), and more likely to have disabled their NHS COVID-19 app, the results highlight the increased risk young people are putting themselves – and others – in.

Opening England up hasn’t helped the government’s approval rating

While the government might have been hoping that letting people get a step closer to normal life once again would improve their image, the opposite is true. The proportion of Britons thinking the government is handling COVID-19 well has fallen from 41% just before Freedom Day to 34% afterwards.

More concerning for the government are attitudes among Conservative voters, which tumbled 17pts this week. Prior to 19 July, three quarters (73%) of Conservative voters thought the government was doing a good job of managing the pandemic response. Now only 56% do, the lowest to date among Tory voters.

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