Around one in six adults in Britain think life will never return to normal thanks to Covid-19, the highest proportion since the pandemic began, a new survey suggests.
The number is up from one in nine a month ago and one in 10 during the summer.
The figures have been compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and suggest attitudes to the pandemic have become steadily gloomier in recent weeks.
Some 16% of adults surveyed from November 18 to 28 said life will never return to normal, compared with 11% between October 20 and 31.
The proportion saying life will take more than a year to get back to normal has dropped from 36% to 33%, while those saying it will take four to six months is down from 6% to 4%.
At the start of this year, despite the second wave of the virus being at its peak, attitudes towards the future were more optimistic.
Only 3% of adults surveyed from December 22 2020 to January 3 2021 said life would never be back to normal, while 21% said four to six months.
The survey, which involved 3,036 adults and took place before new measures against the Omicron variant came into effect this week, also found around 20% of people had never taken a lateral flow test.
Less than four in 10 (37%) adults had taken a lateral flow test in the last seven days, the survey found.
People were asked the question about lateral flow tests before Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged partygoers to take a rapid test ahead of attending festive events.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week, Mr Javid said: “If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) before you go.
“Go to the party, but just be cautious.”
The survey found 76% of all adults were very or fairly confident in how to report the result of a lateral flow test, while 8% reported they were very or fairly unconfident in how to report the result.
The ONS continued to ask people whether they had experienced shortages of any goods at any time in the past two weeks.
Fewer than four in 10 (36%) adults reported experiencing shortages – down from 41% in the previous period.
A total of 17% reported they had not been able to buy essential food because it was not available.
When food shopping, 64% reported experiencing some differences compared with the usual.
The ONS also questioned adults about their household finances and cost of living, and when asked how the Covid-19 outbreak was affecting their life in the past seven days, 11% said their household finances were being affected.
The ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey sets out to understand the impact of the pandemic on people, households and communities in Britain.