COVID-19: Brits believe allowing pubs to reopen was a mistake

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
October 02, 2020, 8:30 AM UTC

They also tend to think that allowing students to return to university was the wrong call

With coronavirus cases once again on the rise in the UK, the Government has been imposing restrictions on various activities once again in a bid to stem the spread.

Most notable has been the new 10pm curfew for pub-goers, with the news full of images of crowded streets just after closing time – an unfortunate unintended consequence of the policy that is pushing large groups of people into close proximity with each other.

Now a new YouGov survey shows that allowing pubs to reopen in the first place was a mistake, according to Britons. Approaching half (46%) say it was wrong to allow the drinks to start flowing again, although 41% consider it to have been a good decision.

With many students staging protests from the accommodation in which they are currently imprisoned, Britons also tend to think that allowing them to return to universities was a bad decision. Some (45%) say it shouldn’t have happened, compared to 40% who think it should.

These are the only two coronavirus restrictions from the list of ten we asked about that Britons tend to think that the Government was wrong to lift.

For instance, the next most likely move that Britons think the Government was wrong to make, at 41%, was encouraging workers to return to their offices. They are outnumbered by the 47% who say it was the right thing to do.

Despite claims that it has boosted COVID-19 case numbers, 51% think that it was right to launch the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. More still approve of bringing the initial lockdown to an end (61%), allowing schools to reopen (65%) and allowing non-essential shops to resume business (70%).

Britons are most likely to say that allowing people from different households to meet in parks once more was a correct move (77%).

Conservative voters are far more likely to think lifting lockdown restrictions was right

In all cases Conservative voters are more likely to see lifting lockdown as a restrictions as the right call compared to their Labour counterparts. The most notable divide is over encouraging workers to return to their offices, which 68% of Conservative voters think was right to do, compared to just 31% of Labour voters.

Conservative voters are similarly much more likely to say it was right to launch Eat Out to Help Out (66%) than Labour voters (37%), and to end the initial strict lockdown measures (75% vs 52%).

There are correspondingly big differences between young and old people, although this is to be expected as the 2019 vote divided sharply along generational lines.

There is much less of a divide when it comes to gender, with men and women in agreement in most areas. The biggest exceptions are allowing different households to meet in gardens (83% of women think was the right move vs 69% of men) or in parks (82% of women vs 71% of men).

See the full results here