English people want to bring back mask wearing and social distancing

Adam McDonnellAssociate Director of Political and Social Research
Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 04, 2021, 8:33 AM UTC

Many feel restrictions have been lifted too soon

The public attitude to the coronavirus crisis has been typified by caution. Britons have proved to be supportive of lockdowns in general, and many often feel that they have come too late and have been loosened too quickly.

As of 19 July, the final coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in England. But English people tend to think that the government has been complacent in doing so: 46% say that the move has been made too soon, compared to 33% who agree with the timing and 12% who think it should have been done earlier.

In fact, the results of this new YouGov survey show that English people want some coronavirus restrictions to be reimposed.

Of the 11 restrictions we asked about, English people want to bring back five: face masks on public transport (79%) and in shops (76%); social distancing in pubs and restaurants (65%) and the 2m rule in general (55%); and closing nightclubs (by 50% to 36% opposed).

People are also split on the ‘rule of six’ for indoor meetings, which 45% support bringing back and 45% prefer to leave behind, and on cancelling large sporting and entertainment events (43% support while 46% oppose).

This leaves another four rules that English people are strongly opposed to bringing back: capping the number of people who can meet outdoors at six (60% oppose); not allowing households to mix outdoors (67%); closing pubs and restaurants (74%); and only allowing people to leave their homes for essential shopping, exercise and work (75%).

Labour voters, women and older people are more likely to support reintroducing restrictions

Across all restrictions, Labour voters are more in favour of bringing them back than Conservative voters. Aside from the five measures the English public in general want to bring back, Labour voters also come down in favour of cancelling large events (50% vs 39% opposed) and banning more than six people from meeting indoors (47% vs 40% opposed).

For their part Conservative voters agree with the public on four of the five measures they’d bring back, but differ when it comes to closing night clubs, on which they are split 45%/47% in favour of keeping open.

Women are also more likely than men to want to bring restrictions back, while older Britons are more pro-restriction than their younger counterparts (not on the possibility of a total lockdown or closing pubs and restaurants).

See the full results here