Coronaphobia grips the nation: Britons fear lockdown is being eased too rapidly

Britons do not want to go back into work because they fear the lockdown is being eased too quickly – and they enjoy being at home, a poll revealed last night.

The survey was a setback for Boris Johnson, illustrating the uphill task he faces to bring the nation’s moribund economy back to life quickly.

It showed that on average people have more money in their pockets than when the lockdown started – with public-sector workers gaining the most. 

The survey will ring alarm bells in Downing St where there were already fears that many people were reluctant to go back to work to rescue the economy – a view reinforced by crowded beaches and parks in last week’s sunny weather

The survey will ring alarm bells in Downing St where there were already fears that many people were reluctant to go back to work to rescue the economy – a view reinforced by crowded beaches and parks in last week’s sunny weather

The survey will ring alarm bells in Downing St where there were already fears that many people were reluctant to go back to work to rescue the economy – a view reinforced by crowded beaches and parks in last week’s sunny weather

Millions of voters are putting their feet up at home – and an astonishing four in ten have put on weight, particularly worrying following clear evidence of a link between obesity and coronavirus.

The Daily Mail survey by JL Partners highlights the heroic status gained by doctors, nurses and other NHS staff on the front line, with almost 100 per cent approval.

But there is a big difference between the effect of the lockdown on people with jobs in the private sector compared with the 5.5million in the public sector.

A total of 38 per cent who work in the private sector, where tens of thousands of have lost their jobs or had wages cut, are worse off, according to the poll. Just 29 per cent are better off.

The survey was a setback for Boris Johnson, illustrating the uphill task he faces to bring the nation’s moribund economy back to life quickly. It showed that on average people have more money in their pockets than when the lockdown started – with public-sector workers gaining the most

The survey was a setback for Boris Johnson, illustrating the uphill task he faces to bring the nation’s moribund economy back to life quickly. It showed that on average people have more money in their pockets than when the lockdown started – with public-sector workers gaining the most

The survey was a setback for Boris Johnson, illustrating the uphill task he faces to bring the nation’s moribund economy back to life quickly. It showed that on average people have more money in their pockets than when the lockdown started – with public-sector workers gaining the most

By contrast, 46 per cent of public sector workers are better off, 30 per cent say it has made no difference and only 23 per cent, fewer than one in four, are worse off.

It means a total of 76 per cent – more than three quarters – of those in the public sector are either no worse off or are better off.

Overall, the public say they are better off by 4 per cent. The survey will ring alarm bells in Downing St where there were already fears that many people were reluctant to go back to work to rescue the economy – a view reinforced by crowded beaches and parks in last week’s sunny weather.

People are well aware how badly the economy has been hit. Four in ten say it will take at least three years to recover.

But the survey also confirms they enjoy being off work – marriages have improved, and there is more support for re-opening pubs and restaurants than getting children back in classrooms from June.

Millions of voters are putting their feet up at home – and an astonishing four in ten have put on weight, particularly worrying following clear evidence of a link between obesity and coronavirus [File photo]

Millions of voters are putting their feet up at home – and an astonishing four in ten have put on weight, particularly worrying following clear evidence of a link between obesity and coronavirus [File photo]

Millions of voters are putting their feet up at home – and an astonishing four in ten have put on weight, particularly worrying following clear evidence of a link between obesity and coronavirus [File photo]

The poll will also fuel concerns among Tory MPs that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s multi-billion-pound pandemic rescue package – including paying furloughs of up to 80 per cent to laid-off workers until October – may be too generous.

It has made Mr Sunak, dubbed ‘Mr Magic Money Tree’ by critics, by far the most popular politician in Britain. He even gets an unprecedented 13 per cent rating from Labour voters, a big proportion of whom work in the public sector.

Other key poll findings include:

  • Aside from seeing family and friends after lockdown, people are most looking forward to having a haircut;
  • Only one in four primary school parents plan to send their children back to school in June;
  • Men are more relaxed than women about easing lockdown – and more keen to reopen shops;
  • Only four in ten have not broken at least one lockdown rule;
  • Voters say the biggest scandal is the mass deaths in care homes;
  • Boris Johnson is winning his ‘coronavirus war’ with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

In addition to public sector workers, pensioners have become better off during lockdown.

Commuters are pictured above at Canning town Station on Thursday morning. Few Britons believe the economy will bounce back quickly. Only 6 per cent say it will revive in twelve months – 41 per cent say it will take at least three years

Commuters are pictured above at Canning town Station on Thursday morning. Few Britons believe the economy will bounce back quickly. Only 6 per cent say it will revive in twelve months – 41 per cent say it will take at least three years

Commuters are pictured above at Canning town Station on Thursday morning. Few Britons believe the economy will bounce back quickly. Only 6 per cent say it will revive in twelve months – 41 per cent say it will take at least three years

2m rule may be relaxed

The two-metre rule could be reduced in the near future, officials revealed yesterday.

Public Health England said the advice to stand 6ft 6in from others was under frequent review.

The rule is among the strictest in the world, with most countries insisting on 1.5m or less.

Managers of pubs and restaurants say two metres makes many businesses unviable. Professor Yvonne Doyle, of PHE, said: ‘We are aware of the international differences and I am sure this will be the subject of continued investigation as to whether that can be reduced further.’

From June 1, anyone informed they might be a virus carrier will have to isolate for 14 days under the ‘test and trace’ scheme.

 

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A total of 35 per cent of OAPs say they have more money, 53 per cent say it has made no difference, and only 12 per cent are worse off.

Forty-three per cent of all voters say they have enjoyed being at home more, with just 25 per cent not enjoying it.

A total of 53 per cent overall say the lockdown is already being eased too fast, while 11 per cent insist it is too slow. 

However, Tory voters are keener to get back to normal – 45 per cent of Conservatives say the pace of easing the lockdown is ‘about right’, a further 10 per cent say it is ‘too slow’. 

Few Britons believe the economy will bounce back quickly. Only 6 per cent say it will revive in twelve months – 41 per cent say it will take at least three years.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson still has his work cut out to persuade parents that schools should start to re-open in June.

Only 26 per cent of primary school parents say they will send their children school in early June – 60 per cent say they will refuse.

A total of 55 per cent back the bid by teaching unions to stop schools returning at the start of June, while 27 per cent say the unions do not have the right to so this. Conservative voters also take a tougher stance on the unions, with 48 per cent of Tories saying they should not be allowed to veto the return to school.

Asked what should be re-opened soon, cafes, pubs and shops are put ahead of schools.

The survey also reveals how the lockdown has affected family life.

Twenty-two per cent say they are getting on better with their spouses, while 9 per cent say relations have got worse. However, 17 per cent reveal their love life has deteriorated, with only 13 per cent saying it has improved. Twenty-one per cent of parents say their relationship with their children has improved, and 6 per cent reveal it has become worse.

Clearly not everyone is working out with Joe Wicks, with 41 per cent getting fatter. Only 16 per cent are slimmer. The weight gain is most marked among women.

It has made Mr Sunak, above during the clap for carers, dubbed ‘Mr Magic Money Tree’ by critics, by far the most popular politician in Britain. He even gets an unprecedented 13 per cent rating from Labour voters, a big proportion of whom work in the public sector

It has made Mr Sunak, above during the clap for carers, dubbed ‘Mr Magic Money Tree’ by critics, by far the most popular politician in Britain. He even gets an unprecedented 13 per cent rating from Labour voters, a big proportion of whom work in the public sector

It has made Mr Sunak, above during the clap for carers, dubbed ‘Mr Magic Money Tree’ by critics, by far the most popular politician in Britain. He even gets an unprecedented 13 per cent rating from Labour voters, a big proportion of whom work in the public sector

The survey indicates as many as half of us may have flouted lockdown rules. A total of 43 per cent said they had not broken any of the rules. The Government gets credit from 63 per cent of voters for preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed. 

But 66 per cent say elderly care home residents were not protected. Despite the criticism, Sir Keir’s attacks on the Prime Minister over the crisis have won him few fans. A total of 42 per cent say Mr Johnson is doing a better job, while 27 per cent say Starmer is winning.

Mr Sunak gets 37 per cent in a Cabinet popularity test, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab second on 8 per cent, followed by Mr Johnson on plus 5 per cent.

Even Labour voters give ‘dishy Rishi’ a rating of 13 per cent.

JL Partners interviewed 2,053 people in Britain online between Wednesday and yesterday.

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By Jason Groves, Political Editor for the Daily Mail

London could lead the country out of the coronavirus lockdown, with talks next week over allowing the capital’s cafes and restaurants to open for outdoor service.

Ministers launched a new ‘Transition Board’ for the capital yesterday to coordinate efforts to lift restrictions. The body is the first of its kind in the country.

And Downing Street confirmed London could move out of lockdown first. 

Ministers launched a new ‘Transition Board’ for the capital yesterday to coordinate efforts to lift restrictions. A worker is pictured disinfecting a tube train in the capital

Ministers launched a new ‘Transition Board’ for the capital yesterday to coordinate efforts to lift restrictions. A worker is pictured disinfecting a tube train in the capital

Ministers launched a new ‘Transition Board’ for the capital yesterday to coordinate efforts to lift restrictions. A worker is pictured disinfecting a tube train in the capital

Asked whether the capital could see measures eased before the rest of the country, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘As we are able to gather more data and have better surveillance of a rate of infection in different parts of the country, then we will be able to potentially lift measures quicker in some parts of the country than in others. And equally we will be able to put the brakes on in some parts of the country.’

A Whitehall source said talks would be held next week to discuss the potential relaxation of regulations on outdoor hospitality.

They added that, with evidence showing the virus spreads much less well outdoors, ministers were hoping to encourage a European-style ‘cafe culture’ in London and other cities.

London was the epicentre of the epidemic in March and April, but cases have been falling rapidly. During one 24-hour period this week, the capital recorded no new cases.

Estimates produced by Cambridge University and Public Health England suggest that the so-called R rate, which measures how fast the virus is spreading, is roughly half that in the rest of the country.

A national estimate for the R rate yesterday put it at between 0.7 and the critical figure of one, where a further easing of restrictions would be rejected by scientists. But the figure is said to be lower in the wider community outside of hospitals and care homes, with a Whitehall source telling the Mail it is estimated at 0.5.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he is ‘very cautious’ about easing restrictions in the capital.

But under yesterday’s plans for a London Transition Board, the mayor will lose his veto over action in the capital. The new body will be co-chaired by Mr Khan and the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, giving the Government a direct role in getting London moving again.

In a joint statement yesterday, the two men said the programme of work needed to get the capital up and running again would be ‘the largest since the end of the Second World War’.

The new body will focus on a series of key issues, including infection control, recovery of key public services such as transport and plans varying the level of restrictions.

Mr Jenrick last night talked up the prospect of getting London moving, saying: ‘Through this new Transition Board, we will carefully build on the extensive planning already under way to get life and business in London – the most dynamic capital city in the world – safely back on track.’

Mr Khan was more cautious, saying: ‘The economic, health and social challenges arising from both the virus itself and from the lockdown are far-reaching, and London’s recovery will be a long and complex road that will take many months, if not years.’

Documents released by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies show ministers considered putting London into lockdown first in March before deciding on a national approach.

But the Government’s road map on easing the lockdown leaves the door open to lifting restrictions in some areas before others.

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