One in 20 unsure of local coronavirus alert level, survey finds

By Emma Bowden, PA
·2-min read

Around one in 20 people in England were unsure of what level of coronavirus restrictions they were living under, according to a survey.

About 5% of adults said they didn’t know or were unsure of which level of England’s three-tier system they were in, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Its survey, conducted between October 21 and 25, found 48% of adults report being in Tier 1, while 37% said they were in Tier 2.

Ten per cent said they were living under Tier 3 restrictions, although more areas have entered the higher two levels of measures since the survey was carried out.

One in five people will be living under the toughest restrictions from Monday when West Yorkshire moves into Tier 3, meaning 58% of the population of England will be living under either Tier 2 or 3.

England has been operating under a three-tier system since October 12, with local areas divided into different restrictions based on the alert level.

The ONS analysed responses from 4,226 adults in Britain to its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, examining the social impact of coronavirus.

Of those in England, 78% of adults said it is easy or very easy to find out about the alert level in their area, while 2% feel it is difficult or very difficult.

Watching the news on television is said by 57% of respondents to be the best way to source information about local restrictions.

Some 36% consult the NHS Covid-19 app, while 35% refer to online and print news sources.

Just over one in five (22%) use the Government website, according to the survey, while 18% rely on word of mouth.

Dr Nilu Ahmed, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Bristol, said the “minutiae of detail” of what is and is not allowed across the tiers can be “confusing”.

“The evidence from police forces corroborates the findings of the ONS that some people are confused as to which tier they are currently under, and this has potential ramifications for individuals unwittingly breaking the law,” she said.

The research also found that those living under Tier 3 restrictions, the highest alert level, were most likely to avoid physical contact with older and other vulnerable people when outside the home.

Some 85% of respondents in Tier 3 said this is the case, compared to 81% of adults in Tier 2 and 74% in Tier 1.