It’s undeniable that the lifting of lockdown has divided opinions. While some people think it’s still way too early to be lifting restrictions and returning to normality, others are concerned about the economic impact of extending it any further.
As attitudes towards the government’s response to coronavirus shift and more people come to terms with the reality of a ‘new normal’, the more unified front of the primary stages of lockdown seems to be dissipating.
In fact, according to new analysis from King’s College London, this division of opinion becomes more obvious as lockdown continues to ease.
The analysis, based on an Ipsos MORI survey from 20-22 May, reveals there are now three “broad but distinct groups” forming across the UK, each of which has “different levels of fear” about Covid-19 and “different levels of trust in the government”.
The three groups – described as “The Trusting”, “The Dissenting” and “The Frustrated” – could explain why, for example, you’re feeling anxious about the prospect of returning to normality.
So which group are you a part of? Keep reading to find out.
People in this group make up 38% of the population. Despite remaining very worried about the health impacts of the virus, nine in 10 people in this group trust the government to handle the coronavirus crisis and feel comfortable relying on the information it provides.
This doesn’t mean, however, that people in this group feel the same about the current pace at which lockdown is being eased; 46% say lockdown is being eased too quickly, while 42% say it’s about the right pace.
Politically, people in this group are more likely to be Conservative (people in this group voted Conservative over Labour by 57% to 20%) and are also more likely to have voted Leave (63% Leave voters to 37% Remain voters).
In terms of long term lockdown measures, this group is mostly accepting of continuing some restrictions if a vaccine cannot be found, but only half are comfortable with their children being home schooled on a long-term basis.
People in this group also make up 38% of the population. As well as being most worried about the health risks posed by coronavirus, people in this group typically stand at odds with the government’s reaction and approach to easing lockdown, with nine in 10 thinking that lockdown is being eased too fast (and just one in 10 supporting Boris Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown which was revealed on 10 May).
As is to be expected, people in this group also have a very low level of trust in the government – only 4% of these people think the government has done a good job in protecting people from the virus, and only one in 10 trust the government to handle the crisis.
Politically, this group is on the opposite side of the spectrum to the first group: they voted Labour over Conservative by 52% to 16%, and Remain over Leave by 67% to 33%. Interestingly, 44% of the people in this group also think the authorities are deliberately reducing or hiding the coronavirus death toll.
In the long term, these people are the least comfortable of all the groups with the idea of returning to normal, and would prefer restrictions to remain in place over the “very long term” if no vaccine becomes available.
Only 24% of the population falls into this group, which represents those who are less worried about the health risks of the virus and are most likely to think things should be moving faster; two in five people in this group think lockdown is being relaxed too slowly, around six times as many as the other groups.
In terms of their attitude towards the government’s response, this group is the most ambivalent – one of the most unifying factors is that these people are likely to be finding lockdown hard to cope with, and over half say the current restrictions will become “extremely difficult” for them to deal with within eight weeks. It’s also important to note that this group is most likely to be facing job losses and financial difficulties.
Politically, this group isn’t as defined in its opinion as the other two; people in this group voted Conservative over Labour by 42% to 32%, and Leave over Remain by 56% to 44%. However, a third of these people think that the number of coronavirus deaths is being deliberately exaggerated by the authorities.
As we’ve already established, the people in this group say seeing lockdown restrictions last in the long term will be “extremely difficult” for them – and this translates into the way they feel about the future. These people are the most comfortable about returning to the workplace and seeing their children return to school.
As lockdown eases and some semblance of normal life returns to our streets, it seems we’re becoming more divided in our response to the crisis.
Whether you’re feeling anxious about returning to normal or feel stressed about the financial implications of lockdown being extended, it’s important to remember it’s OK to feel however you’re feeling – the biggest gift we can give ourselves right now is a bit of self-compassion.