A fortnight ago, the UK emerged from its second national lockdown and returned to the localised “tier system” of restrictions. A poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on 2 December (the day the national lockdown ended) found that 60% of the British public self-reported that they had fully adhered to the rules of the lockdown since its imposition on 5 November, and 40% had mostly adhered to the rules.
There was a minor drop in the proportion of the British public who said they have fully adhered to the rules compared to 11 November, when 64% said they had fully and 36% said they had mostly adhered to the rules. However, throughout the lockdown, a significant minority consistently admitted that they had not fully obeyed the rules.
Younger people were less likely to have reported full adherence to the rules of the second lockdown, with half (50%) of 18-to-24-year-olds in our latest poll saying they fully adhered and the other half saying they mostly stuck to the rules. However, a significant minority reported that they had only mostly adhered to the rules in all of the age groups, including 39% of those 65 and over.
Despite relatively low levels of complete compliance, half (50%) of the British public thought the lockdown should continue beyond 2 December, while only around a third (34%) felt the lockdown should end on 2nd December as planned.
By contrast to the overall sample, nearly half of 18-to-24-year-olds (49%) said the lockdown should end on 2nd December and just over a third (36%) thought the lockdown should be extended. Pluralities or majorities in all other age groups said the lockdown should be extended. Both the majority of 2019 Conservative voters (51%) and 2019 Labour voters (52%) thought the lockdown should be extended.
However, it is important to note that our poll was conducted after the country had been in a lockdown for a month and that the question posed did not state how long the lockdown would be further extended if it continued. It is reasonable to think that one could endure another week or so of lockdown after living under such restrictions for a month and, therefore, support for extension may not be indicative of overall support for a significantly extended period of lockdown.
Indeed, the British public was relatively split on whether the Government’s decision to enter a second national lockdown was rushed, with 37% thinking it was and a plurality (42%) thinking the decision was not rushed.
Moreover, over a quarter (28%) thought that scientific predictions about the trajectory of the coronavirus have been inaccurate, whereas less than half (46%) trusted in their accuracy.
Younger people were particularly sceptical about scientific predictions, with the same portion (38%) of 18-to-24-year-olds thinking the predictions are accurate as inaccurate. Interestingly, there are no discernible differences in public opinion about scientific predictions depending on political allegiance.
Ultimately, however, two-thirds (66%) of the public said that in retrospect, the decision to implement a second national lockdown in November was right, while a fifth (21%) thought otherwise.
A plurality or majority in each age group think that the second national lockdown was the right decision, but the size of the plurality varies. 46% of 18-to-24-year-olds think implementing the second national lockdown was the right decision compared to 38% who think it was the wrong decision. Belief that the second lockdown was the right decision increases across the age groups, reaching 80% of those 65 and over.
And two-thirds (67%) of the British public said lockdowns will continue to be necessary until there is a vaccine or other solution, whereas a quarter (25%) believed we should not lockdown and should get used to living with the virus. However, a belief that lockdowns will continue to be necessary until there is a vaccine may not necessarily equate to support for national lockdowns, but instead be a reaction to the recent vaccination news. It is arguably easier to say you support lockdowns until there is a vaccine if you know a vaccine is on the horizon.
Overall, while the majority of the British public fully adhered to the rules in the second national lockdown, a significant minority did not. In the light of positive news about a vaccine, the vast majority of the British public said the decision to implement a second national lockdown was the right decision and think lockdowns will continue to be necessary until there is a vaccine or other solution.