Britons are less keen on reopening pubs, restaurants and hairdressers than they were
Following the Prime Minister’s initial announcement of next week’s lockdown easing, a YouGov snap poll showed strong support from the public. However, further polling conducted over the weekend shows public support for the changes waning.
The public still strongly back one of the measures - allowing people to meet with one other household at a time indoors - by 71% to 22%, similar to the results from the first poll.
But there has been a drop off in the number who think that additional venues and shops should be allowed to reopen. While more than half (55%) still support the change, this is down from 64% straight after the announcement. Opposition to the measure has risen from 29% to 38%.
Perhaps more concerning for the government is the shift in attitudes on the package as a whole. When last week's poll showed people more likely to back the pace the government was setting (47%) than say it was going too fast (37%) this was a reversal of public opinion compared to previous lockdown polling.
Once again, however, the public think the government is proceeding with undue haste. The new poll finds that now 48% think the measures go too far in relaxing the rules (48%), compared to 37% who think the government has got the balance about right.
Only a small minority of the public (7%) think the measures don’t go far enough.
It isn’t clear what has caused this change, particularly given the measures are backed by the Labour party. It could just be a simple reversion to the norm.
However, I suspect it is more likely that the shift in sentiment was sparked by images of packed beaches and parks over the hot weekend. Polling has shown a large majority of the public (74%) are worried about a second wave of coronavirus, so it is likely these news stories will have reignited those concerns.
Keeping the public onside is going to be crucial to the government during the next stage of the pandemic, given they need customers to feel confident enough to venture out to reopened venues to get the economy up and running again.
They will be hoping that this week’s wetter weather mean fewer pictures of packed parks, and therefore perhaps a bounce back in support for their changes.