English people are split, but the Welsh prefer their methods of coping with the pandemic
At the height of the pandemic, lockdown restrictions were much the same across England and the devolved nations of the United Kingdom. More recently however, the approaches taken by each nation have diverged.
As cases rose across the UK, the Welsh opted for several restrictions to mitigate the impact of the Omicron variant. These have included limiting gatherings to six indoors and closing nightclubs. By comparison, the “Plan B” restrictions in England are modest – limited to mandatory face coverings and recommending home working. With two different sets of approaches taking place in close proximity, which do people prefer?
The English are split over whether they prefer the approach taken in England (31%) or the one taken in Wales (32%). The Welsh, on the other hand, are much more likely to prefer the way their country is handling restrictions (60%), with only 17% of Welsh people preferring the English approach.
While English people are split on which approach they prefer, they tend to have similar views on individual policies as the Welsh. Some 55% of people in England would support closing English nightclubs, versus 33% who would oppose doing so. This is compared to 66% of Welsh people who support the policy being in place.
Another 51% of English people would support limiting indoor meetings to a maximum of six people, while two in five (40%) would oppose implementing this rule. The limit on gatherings has been in place in Wales since 26 December, with the support of 59% of Welsh people.
Approaching half of English people (49%) would also support changing the rules in England to prevent people from attending large sports and entertainment events, with 41% opposed to doing so. In Wales, such events are limited to 50 people outdoors and 30 indoors, some 59% of Welsh people say they support restrictions on large events, versus 35% who oppose them.
When it comes to restricting people from meeting in groups of more than six outdoors, just 35% of people in England would back such a rule, compared to 57% who are opposed. The rule also divides the Welsh population, 46% of whom back the rule of 6 outside and 47% who oppose it.
Despite a preference for their way of doing things, only 47% of Welsh people think the devolved governments should decide which COVID-19 measures are introduced in their region. Compared to this are 40% who would prefer for Westminster to make decisions for the United Kingdom as a whole over what restrictions are in place.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Welsh Conservative voters are more likely to prefer the Westminster government mandate rules across the UK (61%) rather than leaving it up to the devolved nations (31%). Welsh Labour voters are more in favour of respective devolved governments (63%) making the decisions, while 24% would prefer Westminster control.
A further 50% of Welsh people say decisions around coronavirus measures should happen simultaneously across the UK, even if some parts have different case numbers. Just over a third (37%) think areas with differing infection rates should impose different levels of restriction.