Britons' support for easing coronavirus lockdown falls following pictures of packed beaches

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Support for the government’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown has fallen among Britons after beaches were packed with people last week.

Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, hairdressers and theatres in England will all be able to reopen from Saturday as some restrictions are lifted.

However, public support for the easing has dipped since it was announced by prime minister Boris Johnson last Tuesday, according to data from pollsters YouGov.

A poll of 1,600 people revealed that the percentage of Britons who oppose the lockdown easing rose from 29% on 23 June to 38% between 26 and 28 June.

YouGov also found that public opinion had reversed over the pace at which the government was easing the lockdown.

A member of the Ambulance service looks out at people crowded on the beach in Bournemouth, England, Thursday June 25, 2020, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been relaxed. According to weather forecasters Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year, so far, with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
A major incident was declared in Bournemouth last Thursday after its beach was packed with people (PA via AP)

In the 23 June poll, 47% said restrictions were being eased at the right rate, compared to 37% who disagreed.

But in the latest survey, 48% said the government is moving too fast, compared to 37% who believe it’s about right.

Chris Curtis, political research manager at YouGov, said: "It isn’t clear what has caused this change, particularly given the measures are backed by the Labour Party.

“It could just be a simple reversion to the norm. However, I suspect it is more likely that the shift in sentiment was sparked by images of packed beaches and parks over the hot weekend.

“Polling has shown a large majority of the public (74%) are worried about a second wave of coronavirus, so it is likely these news stories will have reignited those concerns."

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In the most high-profile example of overcrowding, a major incident was declared at Bournemouth beach in Dorset last Thursday.

Before the incident, when polled on 23 June, 64% of Britons said they supported the reopening of pubs, restaurants and other premises.

But that dropped to 55% in a follow-up survey carried out between 26 and 28 June – after beaches were packed.

The public still back the measure to allow people to meet with one other household at a time indoors, with 71% in support, only a slight drop from 73% a few days earlier.

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