A third expect facemasks to still be required in 2022

Jemma ConnerPolitical Research Executive
June 24, 2021, 2:20 PM UTC

British public have little confidence in 'Freedom Day' happening on 19 July, and expect coronavirus rules to be in place for several months yet

With the government having already delayed the lifting of the final coronavirus restrictions, new YouGov polling finds that the British public think that the remaining restrictions will not be lifted by the new date of 19 July. Most people expect rules around facemasks, social distancing and limited capacity in indoor venues to continue for some time to come.

Half (51%) of British adults are not confident that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on 19th July, and when exploring this further, it becomes clear that a large proportion of the public expect to have to follow some rules into 2022.

Three in ten (31%) expect to be required to wear a face mask in public indoor settings such as restaurants, shops and gyms into 2022, with a further 7% believing that this rule will never be lifted. Just one in nine (11%) anticipate this rule being lifted on the new 'Freedom Day' date. Even if the rule was to be lifted then, our polling suggests that the majority of the public will continue to be cautious – 50% say that they would continue to wear a facemask in shops even when the rule has been lifted.

As with shops, the public are wary of travelling on public transport without facial protection, with a majority (56%) saying they will continue to do so even when it is no longer legally required.

The British public are more optimistic about the capacity limits in public indoor settings being lifted soon, with 17% saying this will happen on 19 July and 60% believing that this will happen at some point in 2021. However, the latest polling deals another blow to the travel industry, with just 6% thinking the traffic light system will be removed on 19 July, and over a third (36%) saying that the system will not be removed until 2022.

Although all groups are likely to remain cautious and continue to follow measures even once they are no longer required, this is particularly strong amongst those aged 65 and over. Three quarters of this group (75%) say that they will continue to socially distance, compared to 51% of those aged 18-24.

Delaying the lifting of restrictions again then it might not be all bad news for the government. As well as the public being pessimistic that restrictions will end on July 19, the majority (59%) still see this as an ‘earliest possible date’, and would not consider a further delay to be the government going back on its promise. A quarter (24%) would interpret a further extension as the government going back on its decision.

See full results here