8/10 adults think social distancing is important – but 4/10 actually do it

A few figures and data for us from the ONS:

 

Fewer adults in Great Britain are practising preventative measures to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with earlier in the year, although most still think they are important.

Between 6 and 17 October 2021, 39% of adults said they had always or often maintained social distancing when meeting with people outside their household.

This compares with 84% who believed it was important or very important in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The percentage of adults always or often maintaining social distancing has fallen from 63% in mid-July, before limits on the numbers of people who could meet indoors were lifted in England. Restrictions on meeting indoors in Wales and Scotland were lifted in early August.

Around 90% of adults said they were always or often maintaining social distancing in January and February 2021, when lockdown restrictions were in place across Great Britain.

In the two weeks ending 17 October 2021, 82% of adults said they had worn a face covering in the past seven days, which is down from 97% in mid-June.

The percentage of adults maintaining social distancing has fallen sharply as restrictions have eased

Percentage of adults practising preventative measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, Great Britain, January to October 2021

Most people continue to believe that regular hand washing, use of face coverings and social distancing (“hands, face, space”) are important or very important in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Around the same percentage of adults in Great Britain surveyed between 6 and 17 October 2021 said they had worn a face covering as thought it was important or very important to slow the spread of COVID-19 (82% compared with 84%).

 

Percentage of adults self-reporting behaviours and rating them as important or very important in slowing the spread of coronavirus, Great Britain, 30 June to 17 October 2021

However, people were more likely to say that hand washing and social distancing were important or very important than they were to practise the measures themselves.

A total of 91% considered hand washing to be important or very important, while 82% said they washed their hands regularly when returning home.

For social distancing, 84% of adults said it was important or very important in slowing the spread, but just 39% said they had always or often maintained it when meeting with others.

Between 6 and 17 October 2021, 54% of working adults in Great Britain went to a place of work without doing any work from home.

This is the highest percentage for a year and the same as between 7 and 11 October 2020.

Just over 1 in 7 working adults (15%) worked only from home between 6 and 17 October 2021, down from 37% in mid-February 2021 and the lowest percentage since the current survey began in May 2020.

A further 16% both worked from home and travelled to work, similar to levels recorded in June 2021.

 

While concerns about the effect of coronavirus on people’s lives are falling, the percentage of adults thinking that life will never return to normal is rising.

Around 4 in 10 adults (42%) in Great Britain were worried or very worried about the effect of coronavirus on their lives between 6 and 17 October 2021, down from 78% in early January 2021, when the third national lockdown began.

However, the percentage of adults thinking that life will never return to normal has risen to 12%, up from 3% at the start of the year.

A further 30% think that it will be more than a year before life returns to normal, compared with 20% at the start of 2021.

Meanwhile, 30% are not sure when things will return to normal, up from 16% at the beginning of the year.

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