NHS workers say coronavirus restrictions ended too soon

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
August 24, 2021, 1:02 PM UTC

They also overwhelmingly support reintroducing mask and social distancing requirements and are inclined to say nightclubs should be closed

The UK is slowly approaching something similar to a pre-pandemic “normal”, with nearly all coronavirus restrictions having lifted on 19 July. But many NHS workers feel uneasy about the return to a time with crowded nightclubs, hugging, and maskless strangers standing closely on trains and in pubs, while coronavirus cases are rising. 

Half of all NHS staff believe the government jumped the gun with ‘Freedom Day’: 48% say coronavirus restrictions ended too soon. Around one in three say the timing was about right, while only 8% say it happened too late.

These figures are similar to those among the English public when YouGov asked in late July.

Among 11 previous restrictions we asked about, NHS staff support reintroducing five.

Support is highest making it a legal requirement for people to wear masks on public transport and in shops again, with respectively 88% and 84% in favour. While companies can still demand that customers wear masks to use their services, this stopped being legally required on 19 July.

Three quarters of NHS workers (73%) also believe the social distancing rule in restaurants and pubs should be put back on the menu, while three in five (61%) would like the two-metre rule to still apply between separate households, effectively outlawing hugs and handshakes again.

More NHS staff than not are also in favour of nightclubs closing their doors again, at 48% vs 40% who are opposed.

These figures are largely in line with sentiment among the wider English public, who would also back reintroducing the same five restrictions as NHS, although support is slightly lower in most cases.

Meanwhile, there is little support for other restrictions such as closing pubs and restaurants (15% in favour), limiting the purposes people are allowed to leave their home for (16%) and banning indoor meetups with others from outside the household (19%).

See the full results here