Mask wearing drops despite sharp increase in Britons thinking the pandemic is getting worse

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
March 31, 2022, 10:54 AM GMT+0

The level of mask use in public places has dropped to its lowest since July 2020

While the war in Ukraine may have pushed COVID-19 off the front pages, the pandemic is certainly not over. Case numbers continue to rise, with estimated figures showing the number of infections in the week ending 20 March up by nearly one million compared to the previous week.

The latest iteration of the YouGov COVID-19 Trackers (22-23 March) shows the worsening nature of COVID-19 in the UK is not lost on the public. Two in five (45%) now say the COVID-19 situation in the UK is getting worse, compared to 36% who think it is getting better or is over entirely.

Those thinking the situation is worsening is up a dramatic 34 points since the previous survey on 22-23 February when only 11% thought things were getting worse. In this February survey, people were twice as likely as they are now (68%) to say the COVID-19 situation was improving or over.

This feeling is not limited to the situation in the UK either. Another 37% think the COVID-19 situation globally is also worsening, versus 31% who think it is improving or over – a 23pt rise on the previous survey.

This follows a previous survey conducted on 23 March, which showed most Britons (79%) were aware of rising COVID-19 case numbers to some extent - however, this only included 17% who were “very aware”.

Despite rising infections and increasing awareness the situation is getting worse, research also shows that mask use has dropped to its lowest level in 21 months. Only two in five Britons (42%) now say they are wearing face masks in public spaces – down 11 points from 53% on the last survey (22-23 February).

This represents a 29-point drop compared to this time last year and is the lowest level of mask use since July 2020.

Younger people are the least likely to be using masks in public spaces (30% of those aged 18 to 24), while those aged 65 and over are the most likely to still do so (60%).

See full results here

Explore more data & articles