As the UK adheres to stricter lockdown rules due to last until 2 December, Britons’ thoughts and feelings lean towards positive. In a short term survey undertaken by research platform Glow in the last week, respondents revealed a fair amount of optimism amongst the gloom.
While each nation maintains the ability to set its own rules, many restrictions remain common across the UK. According to BBC, among most regions, bars and restaurants have shut, non-essential shops and leisure facilities are closed, and household visits are out of the picture. The Guardian reported the atmosphere as one of gloom and resignation as non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues closed.
Glow’s survey found citizens held some positivity amongst the more rigorous restrictions. UK citizens’ general sentiment surrounding the second lockdown is that it is easier (42 percent of respondents) or the same (45 percent of respondents) as the first lockdown. While this offers a reasonably optimistic view, we feel for the 13 percent of respondents who find that the second lockdown is more difficult.
UK citizens are feeling quite positive about the government’s action throughout the pandemic. More than half of Britons believe the government has provided enough support to businesses during the pandemic; only a small percentage (22 percent of respondents) believe the government has not.
Additionally, the government’s furlough scheme has seen a high level of support, as 71 percent of respondents state they support the program’s extension. The scheme sees the wages of around 9.5 million people, as reported by Wired, being paid by the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Perhaps these reliable initiatives contribute to citizens’ mildly optimistic sentiments about the second lockdown.
It is looking very likely that the majority of UK citizens will enthusiastically accept a COVID-19 vaccination — the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. 64 percent of respondents stated they are likely to accept the vaccine, while only 22 percent stated they will not.
Notably, this willingness to accept vaccination increases as respondents’ age goes up. While respondents between 18 and 44 years old had a wider range of likeliness to accept the vaccine — including a third who stated they are unlikely — respondents who are 45 years and older are overwhelmingly likely to accept COVID-19 vaccination. 76 percent of respondents 45 years and older stated they are likely to get the vaccine, with 50 percent of all respondents in this age group stating they are extremely likely.
It can be assumed that the virus itself plays a large part in this difference of opinion. Studies have shown the effects of COVID-19 to be far more dangerous in those who are older. As stated by the World Health Organization, 95% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in those who are older than 60 years. The WHO National Director for Europe, Hans Henri P. Kluge, spoke to this effect, stating, “Older adults are at a significantly increased risk of severe disease following infection from COVID-19.” It is therefore reasonable, and expected, to see older adults enthusiastically reaching for the vaccine.
A fascinating thought experiment in the survey asked UK respondents what they would do in the following hypothetical scenario: if they are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, would they take the vaccine, or choose to donate it to a citizen of a developing country — under the guideline that they would not receive their vaccination for another 18 months.
More than two-thirds of respondents stated they would receive the vaccine themselves. A generous 31 percent decided they would rather gift their vaccine to someone else — an admirable gesture under discouraging lockdown restrictions.
Once again, we see that these responses appear different across age demographics. Understandably, when it comes to those 45 years of age and older, 76 percent of respondents stated they would take the vaccine themselves, compared to only 62 percent of those 44 years or younger.
Looking ahead, Britons are optimistic for a mid-2021 removal of restrictions. 30 percent of respondents believe that restrictions will be removed by spring, while 27 percent believe this will occur by summer.
While many activities are dearly missed during lockdown, there are a few that stick out the most in UK citizens’ minds. Most eagerly anticipated is to have friends and family into our homes, with nearly half of respondents stating they are looking forward to this the most. Next on the list is to go for a meal with friends, followed by visiting someone’s home.
Hopefully, as Britons maintain a generally optimistic attitude, we will see lockdown restrictions lifting before we know it.