Lockdowns around the world have been successful in suppressing virus transmission. So successful in fact, they have created another problem entirely.
Lockdowns around the world have been successful in suppressing virus transmission. So successful in fact, they have created another problem entirely.

Lockdown trend we didn’t predict

It's one of the more surprising trends of living in lockdown - but a recent poll shows the public could be reluctant to get back to life as we once knew it.

As Australia prepares to ease restrictions and thoughts turn to how to negotiate a social life changed by COVID-19, new polling in the UK shows fear of the virus means many are not so keen to get back to their old ways.

An Ipsos MORI poll found two thirds of people (67 per cent) would feel uncomfortable going to large events like sports games or concerts in the post-virus world.

Three in five people would feel uncomfortable on public transport or going to bars and restaurants. And while one third of (mostly younger) people said they would be happy to eat out or go for a drink, just 20 per cent of them would be keen to take public transport to get there.

Medical workers take part in 'Clap for Our Carers' outside Kingston Hospital in the UK. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.
Medical workers take part in 'Clap for Our Carers' outside Kingston Hospital in the UK. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

 

The poll also found nearly two thirds of people would feel comfortable meeting friends and family in public, while one third are sceptical of such an activity.

In an unfortunate reinforcing of millennial stereotypes, younger people between 18-34 said they would be willing to go to restaurants and bars and public events, but are least likely to feel comfortable meeting friends and family outside the home.

As for the eventual return to work, half of people said they are comfortable going back while one third would be nervous to do so. Most people are also uncertain about sending their children back to school.

Ipsos MORI's research director Keiran Pedley said the results show there is a "clear unease" about the thought of ending lockdown.

"In particular, clear majorities of Britons are nervous about using public transport again or going to bars, restaurants or live music and sporting events. These numbers suggest that it will take some time for parts of the British economy to return to any semblance of normality, even after lockdown has ended."

 

Increased testing is key to ending lockdowns for some. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.
Increased testing is key to ending lockdowns for some. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.

 

Cambridge University statistician David Spiegelhalter said the results were "very worrying indeed" and he feared the risks of the virus had become overblown in people's minds.

"If you're old and vulnerable, you're very sensible you really do need to protect yourself … But the risks drop so much as you get younger. I think the media is partly to blame for emphasising the occasional deaths of healthy young people," he told the BBC.

"It means that many people are definitely over anxious about their chance of both getting the virus and the harm they might come to if they do get it."

He said it was a "rough rule of thumb" that "if you get the virus then your chance of dying is roughly about the same as you would have had this year anyway and if you're not worried about dying this year you shouldn't be so worried about getting the virus."

He said the government need to work on messaging to classify people into risk categories.

The comments come as nations around the world contend with how to kickstart their economies while observing social distancing and ensuring the critical rate of reproduction of the virus stays below one.

Another recent Ipsos MORI poll shows people across 12 different countries in Asia Pacific think their borders should be closed until the outbreak is contained.

Australia's coronavirus outbreak is under control with no new cases in South Australia for nine days and Queensland for five. Tasmania also recorded a new day of zero cases.

More than 3.5 million people have taken up the government's COVIDSafe contact tracing app and National Cabinet announced it would decide on relaxing some measures next week, giving the country an "early mark" on the tight restrictions.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @Victoria-Craw | victoria.craw@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Lockdown trend we didn't predict



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