Britons believe they will be much more united after the country has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.
Just over half of respondents thought the country would be very united or somewhat united, compared with 23% who thought the country was united before the coronavirus outbreak.
However, the majority of these responses were completed before the revelations that one of Boris Johnson’s senior political aides, Dominic Cummings, may have broken lockdown rules. Cummings has refused to resign despite Durham police concluding his family trip to Barnard Castle, a beauty spot on the River Tees, may have been in breach of stay at home guidance to stay at home and would have led officers to tell him to turn around, had he been stopped.
The survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed working adults have become increasingly concerned about health and safety since the government eased lockdown rules and encouraged those who can return to work to do so.
The UK government has said that these five tests have to be met before they will consider easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions:
- The NHS has sufficient capacity to provide critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK
- A sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths from Coronavirus
- Reliable data to show that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
- Operational challenges including testing and personal protective equipement (PPE) are in hand with supply able to meet future demand
- Confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS
The proportion of adults worried about health and safety in the workplace during the coronavirus outbreak almost doubled in the space of a week, the ONS said.
One in five (20%) adults who said the pandemic is affecting their work have health and safety concerns, up from 11% the previous week.
The most common concerns are around difficulties in following social distancing and hygiene advice and having limited or no protective equipment.
The ONS polled 1,028 adults between 21 and 24 May as part of its weekly opinions and lifestyle survey, to understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on British society.
For a second week, the most common impact was a lack of freedom and independence, with almost six in 10 adults (59%) reporting this. Other common issues were an inability to make plans (58%) and personal travel plans being affected (51%).
The survey also showed people continue to be concerned about the future and feelings of boredom had increased this week.
Among all adults, about one in five people (21%) said they expect it would be more than a year before life returns to normal. More than one in three (36%) expected the financial position of their household to worsen over the next 12 months.
More than four in 10 (43%) said their work had been affected by coronavirus over the past seven days. Of the sample of 310 people asked why, a fifth said it was due to health and safety concerns, making it the third biggest concern behind decreased hours and being furloughed.
It follows the change in advice from the government on 10 May, from stay at home to stay alert. This included encouraging those in England who are unable to work from home to return to their jobs if their workplace is open from 13 May.
The government had also said people would be allowed to exercise as many times as they wish and spend time outdoors with someone from a different household providing they observe social distancing rules.
More than a third of the working adults polled (36%) said they had left home to travel to or from work during the past seven days – a similar level to the previous week.
The proportion of people who said they had stayed at home or only left for work, shopping, medical reasons or exercise, fell to 73%, its lowest level.
The most common reasons for leaving home continue to be essential shopping, exercise, work and medical need. However, leaving to meet with others in a public place has seen the largest increase this week.
More than four in 10 adults who had left their home (42%) had visited a park or public green space this week – with 36% of these saying they had met family or friends from outside their household.
While outside the home, about three in 10 adults (29%) said they had worn a face covering during the last seven days, while 41% said they are very or fairly likely to wear one over the next week.