Strong support in England for return of mask wearing and social distancing rules

Adam McDonnellResearch Director of Political and Social Research
October 26, 2021, 8:41 AM GMT+0

One in five of the English public would welcome the return of full lockdown restrictions

As cases continue to rise in England, there is increasing pressure on the government to reintroduce some COVID measures. The Labour party has been calling for ‘Plan B’ restrictions including compulsory masks on public transport and in shops. Our latest data suggests the public would also back such a move, with over three quarters of those living in England supporting compulsory masks on public transport (81%) and in shops (76%).

The public are also supportive of re-introducing social distancing rules with 67% thinking this should be implemented at hospitality venues and 59% supporting a return of the general 2 metre rule for those not in your household. Beyond this, there is not majority support for re-introducing any other restrictions tested, though the public are divided on closing nightclubs (49% support to 40% oppose), banning large sports events (42% to 49%), and re-introducing the ‘rule of six’ indoors (42% to 48%).

Those in England are generally opposed to much stricter rules, with just 17% supporting the closure of pubs and restaurants, and 22% supporting a ban on meeting people outside your household. One in five English adults (20%) would support only allowing people to leave their homes for essential shopping, exercise and work, similar to the rules implemented during full lockdown. Three quarters (73%) oppose such a measure.

Opinion on re-introducing restrictions has remained unchanged compared to just after rules were lifted in July. At the time 45% felt that restrictions were lifted too soon, while 34% thought the timing was about right. Three months on, the split is basically identical with 45% saying they happened too soon and 34% at the right time. This is also the case for every one of the individual measures we looked at, with the difference not exceeding 4 percentage points in any of the cases (and therefore within the margin of error).

See the full results here

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