Should COVID-19 measures be scrapped in March 2022?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
December 01, 2021, 9:06 AM UTC

Only three in ten think the pandemic in the UK would be nearing its end by such a time

It was reported in mid-November that the government was planning to wind down its COVID-19 operations by March 2022. Reports suggested that the Coronavirus Act, which supplies the government with the powers it needs to manage the pandemic, would be allowed to expire next March. This would mean an end to isolation requirements for those with COVID-19, test and trace, and free COVID-19 testing.

However, in a survey carried out before the emergence of the Omicron variant, eight in ten (86%) Britons think that free COVID-19 testing should be maintained beyond March 2022 if the pandemic is still underway, including a large majority of both Conservative (85%) and Labour voters (92%). Only 7% think free COVID-19 testing should be scrapped next year.

Another 78% of people think that the rules requiring people infected with COVID-19 to isolate should be continued past next March – while 13% think isolation rules should be scrapped even if COVID is ongoing by this time.

People are less keen to see the Test and Trace scheme continued (38%) with nearly half of people (48%) thinking it should be scrapped by next March. Just over half (56%) of Conservatives would be in favour of binning the scheme next year, while Labour voters lean towards maintaining it (48%) rather than scrapping it (41%).

Will the pandemic will be over by March?

Even before the news of the Omicron variant, Britons did not think life in the UK was getting back to normal and were sceptical the end was in sight,

Two-thirds of people (67%) feel their lives are still not back to pre-pandemic normality. One in four (26%) said their life was broadly back to how it was before the pandemic began.

Younger adults were generally more likely to feel life was back to how it used to be than older adults - including three in ten (31%) of those aged between 18 and 49. Those aged 65 and over are the most likely to say their life is not back to normal (79%).

Elsewhere, only one in three (32%) thought that the pandemic would be winding down or finished by March 2022, including only 3% thinking it would completely over by this time.

Some 44% thought the pandemic in the UK will still be in an earlier stage, and 24% were unsure. Those aged between 18 and 24 were the most hopeful, with 40% thinking the pandemic would be over or nearly over by March, compared to 28% of those aged 65 and over.

See full results here