The social experiment that highlights our double standards over the coronavirus lockdown

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People enjoy the sun in London Fields park in East London as people flock to parks and beaches with lockdown measures eased.
It seems we might have double standards when it comes to lockdown rules. (Picture: PA)

A social experiment has shown what British people think is and isn’t acceptable during the coronavirus lockdown.

Pollster YouGov decided to test what we see as acceptable during lockdown by sharing two images that went viral on social media the weekend before restrictions were relaxed, each sparking arguments over whether the people in them were flaunting rules.

The first image, tweeted by Hackney Police, showed people eating and drinking in a busy park. The force said they were “fighting a losing battle” against people breaking lockdown, while critics pointed out there was nothing to suggest the groups of people were from different households.

The second showed a video of people performing a “socially distanced” conga at a VE Day street party, which sparked criticism from those pointing out that participants were not leaving their homes for essential reasons. Others praised the way they were celebrating VE Day.

To test people’s response to the two pictures, YouGov showed half of respondents one of them and half the other then asked both groups whether they thought what was being shown was acceptable.

What do Brits think is more acceptable during lockdown?
What do Brits think is more acceptable during lockdown? (Picture: YouGov)

In both cases, the majority of respondents said they thought what was being shown was unacceptable during lockdown.

People tended to find the VE Day conga more acceptable than picnicking in the park.

More than a third of British adults (35%) said they thought it was acceptable, while half (51%) said it was unacceptable.

In contrast, the picture of people eating and drinking in the park was voted acceptable by just one in eight of us (12%), while 81% said it was unacceptable.

The over-65s were the most disapproving age group when it comes to the park photo, whilst simultaneously approving overwhelmingly of the VE Day conga - 5% vs 92%.

In contrast, just 11% of under-25s said the conga was acceptable - the same proportion of this age group who saw the park photo as unacceptable.

There did seem to be some correlation between people’s views and their politics, with YouGov finding that Leave voters were far more likely to think the participants in the VE photo weren’t doing anything wrong (48%) than Remain voters (29%).

The polls found that Leave voters were ten points more likely to think the party was acceptable than unacceptable, whereas fully 60% of Remain voters disapproved.

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