Just 16% of Brits think life has returned to normal since ‘freedom day’

·3-min read
People wearing face masks in the underground after majority of the COVID 19 restrictions were lifted on 19th July yet the mayor of London announced facial coverings are still mandatory. (Photo by Hesther Ng / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People wearing face masks in the underground after majority of the COVID 19 restrictions were lifted on 19 July. (PA)

Just 16% of Brits think that life has returned to normal since restrictions were lifted on "freedom day", according to a new poll.

The YouGov research published on Tuesday revealed that the vast majority of Brits think life has not gone back to what it was pre-pandemic. 

The polling company said that 16% of people also responded in the same way in early June - weeks before "freedom day" on 19 July. 

Since restrictions lifted, the figure has even dropped to just 10%, recorded on 20 July. 

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In the latest survey, between 28 and 29 July, YouGov found the figure had risen to 16% again, meaning "freedom day" has had little impact on those who think life has returned to normal.

It comes after Boris Johnson rowed back his rhetoric about "freedom day" bringing an "irreversible" return to normal pre-pandemic living. 

The prime minister repeatedly touted his roadmap out of lockdown as "irreversible"

However, the Delta variant saw a surge in cases across the country as more and more restrictions were removed. 

The government made the decision to delay the first Step 4 date from 21 June to 19 July. 

In late June, the PM said the new date was “looking good” to be the “terminus point” to England’s coronavirus restrictions.

He added that Brits would "very likely" see life return to "pretty much life before COVID".

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But he also began to say he could not rule out bringing back restrictions later in the year. 

Announcing the easing of remaining measures ahead of Freedom Day, he said the government would continue to monitor the data and “retain contingency measures”.

On the prospect of reintroducing measures, the PM said: “It is very far from the end of dealing with this virus.

“On the irreversibility point, obviously, if we do find another variant that doesn’t respond to the vaccines, if heaven forbid if some really awful new bug appears, then clearly we will have to take any step we need to do to protect the public.”

As restrictions came into force, the onus of responsibility shifted considerably, with decisions about whether to take actions to curb the spread of the virus flipping largely from the state to individuals and company bosses.

Festival goers queue for Coronavirus Vaccines, at an NHS community vaccination team bus, on the third day of the Latitude festival in Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. The walk-in service is a joint venture between Norfolk and Waverley CCG and GM graham pharmacies. Picture date: Sunday July 25, 2021. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
Festival goers queue for coronavirus vaccines, at an NHS community vaccination team bus, on the third day of the Latitude festival in Henham Park. (PA)

Despite the mandate for face masks in most public indoor spaces being removed, the proportion of adults reporting that they are still wearing face coverings outside their home stands at 95%, according to the latest ONS figures. 

Adults who always or often maintained social distancing also remains high at 61%. 

Tim Vizard, ONS principal research officer, said: "Interestingly, despite the lifting of legal restrictions in England on 19 July, people continue to feel strongly that measures like wearing face coverings and hand washing are important.”

The ONS also found that more than one in three (33%) of adults reported that they felt it will take more than a year for life to return to normal - the highest since 28 October to 1 November 2020 when 34% of adults reported this.

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