The public are divided on whether the worst of the pandemic is still to come
Around the same proportion of UK adults now say that the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us (37%) as think that the worst is behind us (40%), according to a new poll from Savanta ComRes.
What we are seeing already is a renewed sense that the pandemic could still get significantly worse
The polling shows twice as many people now say that the worst of the pandemic is still to come compared to when the question was first asked at the start of October (19%), and still a significant increase from this time last month (28%).
The poll also shows that now four in five (80%) say that they are concerned about another wave of coronavirus this winter, a rise of 6 points from when the question was first asked eight weeks ago (74%).
Despite this, the proportion of UK adults saying that there will be further coronavirus lockdowns this winter has remained static from October to November, with around three in five (58% Oct, 59% Nov) saying they expect lockdown-style restrictions.
The new poll was conducted over the weekend as the government announced new mandatory measures relating to face coverings on public transport and in shops, while also reducing the gap people need to wait between their second vaccination dose and being eligible for a booster.
Three quarters (75%) supported reintroducing mandatory face coverings on public transport, while seven in ten (69%) supported reintroducing the requirement inside shops and supermarkets when the question was last asked at the end of October. Three in five (61%) supported introducing them inside pubs and restaurants (except when sitting down to eat or drink), indicating the government would have support for such a measure were it to be reintroduced.
The overwhelming majority of those who had received both of the vaccination doses (88%) said they would accept the offer of a booster jab, but a significant minority of those who had only received one dose (28%) said they would not receive the booster jab when eligible.
And public perceptions of the six-month gap between second dose and booster eligibility – now reduced to three months – was mixed, with 17% saying it was too long to wait, yet 14% saying it was too short. Half (51%) said the six-month gap seemed about right.
However, in more recent polling, almost half (46%) supported reducing the time people had to wait before becoming eligible for the booster vaccine, while just 15% opposed.
Commenting on the findings, Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes says:
“Naturally the omicron variant is causing concern among the public, and as the news of further restrictions broke this weekend during our fieldwork, I would only expect concern to increase if the questions were repeated now. What we are seeing already is a renewed sense that the pandemic could still get significantly worse and, if that does end up being the case, I’m sure the public would once again support any measures the government implements to save lives, even at the expense of the economy and the individual liberties Britons were just getting used to enjoying again.”
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