More Than Half Of People Say Lockdown Should Not End Until Most Of The UK Is Vaccinated, New Poll Finds
New polling found a cautious approach was favoured by a majority of the public
An exclusive poll for PoliticsHome has found that 54% of people back lockdown rules continuing until most of the country has been vaccinated.
A strong majority of people polled also want ministers to have more information on whether transmission can be reduced by vaccines before any easing of restrictions takes place.
Just 34% said the measures should be lifted once only priority groups, including everyone over the age of 50, have received their first jab.
54% of people said they believed most lockdown restrictions should remain until most of the UK had been vaccinated. 50% of 18-34 year olds, 56% of 35-54 year olds, 58% of 55-64s and 54% of those aged 65 and older said they back the approach.
The poll, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on behalf of PoliticsHome, comes ahead of an announcement on the easing of lockdown by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, in which he will lay out detail of the country's route back to normal life.
Boris Johnson has already stated that England's restrictions would be eased in "cautious" stages with weeks between each step.
The poll found support for a more cautious approach across the political spectrum, with 55% of Conservative voters, 54% of Labour and 60% of Liberal Democrats saying they would like to see all age groups vaccinated before returning to normal life.
Vaccinating most of the country before easing restrictions was also the most popular approach in all of England's regions, but was highest in Eastern England (61%) and those in the South East (58%).
Over a third (34%) believed that ministers should instead wait only until the vaccine priority groups, including the over-50s, care home staff, frontline health and social care workers and the clinically vulnerable, had received their jab before easing, while 12% said they didn't know.
The prime minister has indicated that schools and outside recreation would be the first to open, followed by non-essential retail, with hospitality venues, including cafes and pubs, being the last to open.
Speaking earlier this week Johnson said the government's strategy for reopening the country would be led by "data not dates" as he vowed to take a scientific approach to the easing.The study also found more than two-thirds (69%) believed the government should wait for more information on the impact of vaccines on the spread of the virus before taking any decisions, with just 29% saying ministers already had enough data to act.
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson said that he intended any new easing of lockdown measures to be "irreversible," indicating that the UK would not be subject to such strict rules again.
But 62% of people believed the Johnson should not state this lockdown would be the last. Only a quarter agreed with his pledge to not reimpose restrictions.
Support for the cautious approach to lifting lockdown is at odds with growing anger among some Conservative MPs who have called for a quicker easing of restrictions.
Earlier this week, members of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group wrote to the Prime Minister saying there would be no justification to continue restrictions once the top nine priority groups had been vaccinated, estimated by the government to be completed by the end of April.
Downing Street is reportedly considering that their three-stage approach could see pubs in England open to serve customers outdoors from Easter weekend, despite official figures suggesting only two-thirds of those in priority groups 5-9 would be vaccinated by then.
But allowing pubs to open at that stage is only supported by 37% of people, while 29% of respondents wanted all priority groups vaccinated before they open. A further 26% think waiting for almost everyone in the UK to be vaccinated before bars and restaurants are allowed to open was the best approach.
- Redfield & Wilton Strategies polled 2,500 UK residents online on 17 February