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Brits strongly opposed to lifting lockdown, new poll shows, as government approval rating dips

The latest Opinium survey also flags public concern over the supply of Personal Protective Equipment.

4 min read

Fewer than one in five people in Britain believe the time is right to reopen schools, pubs and restaurants, according to a new poll on the coronavirus lockdown.

The fresh Opinium study for The Observer finds just 17% of people believe the conditions have been met for schools to reopen, while 67% say they have not been and should stay closed.

Opposition to reopening restaurants is higher still, with just 11% of people saying the time is now right for them to return, with 78% opposed, while only 9% believe pubs should make a comeback, with 81% against. 

The poll also finds continued opposition to mass gatherings, including sporting events and concerts, getting going again - with just 7% of those quizzed by the pollster saying that would be the right move. 

The findings come ahead of Thursday’s fresh review of the lockdown measures, with Boris Johnson expected to flesh out plans for a phased return to some aspects of normal life in the coming days.

The Mail on Sunday reports ministers are preparing to lift curbs on outdoor activities including picnics in the first stage of easing lockdown rules - but only if coronavirus infection rates continue to fall.

The move will mean people can exercise several times a day rather than the current once-a-day limit, while the public will be permitted to drive to the countryside for walks and picnics.

A senior government source told the paper: “Thanks to the huge efforts of the British public we are past the peak of the virus without the NHS having been overwhelmed.

“Now we can start to look at which elements of the social distancing rules can be adjusted while keeping the rate of transmission down, so we are looking at how to lift everyone’s spirits by allowing the public to get into the great outdoors.”

Meanwhile The Sunday Times reports building sites will be permitted to reopen, while businesses will be given three weeks to ready their work places to allow social distancing guidelines to be followed ahead of a more wide-ranging easing of lockdown measures if appropriate at the end of May.


Ahead of this week’s decision, Opinium’s study finds that approval of ministers’ handling of the crisis has dropped to its lowest level since the lockdown was imposed from a positive net score of +21% to +13%.

That marks its lowest level since 12 March, more than a week before strict social distancing measures were brought in across the UK.

Confidence in the Government’s ability to handle the situation has also dipped slightly, from +18% last week to +15% in the latest study, the Opinium study shows.

Meanwhile the study finds as many as 60% of those surveyed disapprove of the Government’s efforts to get personal protective equipment to the coronavirus frontline.

It also reveals that four in five (79%) of those asked claim they are sticking to lockdown restrictions as strictly as they were when the curbs first came into force.

However, 14% of those asked told the pollster they were were starting to be more relaxed about bending the rules slightly, while 3% said they had never complied with the lockdown.

Those who said they had bent the rules listed exercising for more than an hour, shopping for non-essential items only, and going out more than once a day for exercise as their primary reasons for doing so. 

Of the rule-breakers, 19% admitted to having bulk bought food for stockpiling, while 18% said they had ‘touched someone else’s pet’ and 15% said they had used shopping for essentials ‘as a cover for being outside’.

But Adam Drummond, Opinium’s head of political polling, said: “Public appetite for lifting the lockdown measures remains miniscule.

"Very few people believe that conditions have been met to allow for public spaces and venues to re-open on May 8th and, while some are treating the lockdown rules less strictly than before, most say they are not and few admit to breaching them.”

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