Public compliance with lockdown decreased in England in last two weeks, study finds

PUBLISHED: 11:46 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:46 29 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: PA Video/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: PA Video/PA Wire.

The public’s compliance with coronavirus lockdown guidelines in England have dropped in the past two weeks, new data suggests.

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According to University College London’s (UCL) Covid-19 social study of more than 90,000 adults during the outbreak, “complete” compliance of government recommendations has decreased, declining from an average of 70% of people who were completely adhering to just over 50%.

Respondents were also asked how much confidence they had in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic from one (not at all) to seven (lots).

Researchers found there has been a further decrease in confidence in the government in England over the bank holiday weekend - from around 4 to around 3.5.

Confidence is falling most notably amongst those under 30, those in urban areas and those with a mental health diagnosis.


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Confidence in government is lower in England than in Scotland and Wales, where lockdown easing has not yet taken place.

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Other findings from May 18 to 25 reveal that keyworkers in health and social care show similar experiences to people in lockdown at home, but are less worried about unemployment.

It covers the weekend where the news broke that Dominic Cummings had committed a breach of the government’s lockdown rules.

Lead author, Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL Epidemiology & Health Care, said: “Compliance with government advice continues to fall, but still remains relatively high amongst most groups.

“Confidence in government also continues to fall in England since the easing of lockdown was announced, dropping most noticeably over the bank holiday weekend.”

Cheryl Lloyd, education programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “With compliance levels falling, it is increasingly important to know which specific lockdown measures adults are breaking, and to consider what this can tell us about how public health messages can be communicated more effectively.”

The ongoing study, which was launched in the week before lockdown, is funded by the Nuffield Foundation with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

It is the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health.

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