It has been almost two weeks since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his national lockdown. People all over the United Kingdom are spending their entire days inside, apart from the occasional walk or run in the neighbourhood and the even more infrequent visit to the shops for food and supplies. As we noted before, members of the public overwhelmingly back this decision by the government to implement a nationwide lockdown. But now that they have gotten what they wanted, how is the public handling it?
In a poll of 2,000 conducted on Wednesday and Thursday this past week, we at Redfield & Wilton took the opportunity to find out how members of the public are managing in their exile to their homes. For a third of respondents, this period at home has been a positive experience, but it has been a negative one for about a quarter of respondents. A plurality (41%) describe it as neither positive nor negative.
The scale in this division increases particularly among the young, where the fewest number describe themselves as having a ‘neither positive nor negative’ experience. Instead 44% describe time as having been at least somewhat positive and 32% as at least somewhat negative. London is the only region where a narrow plurality describes their experience as at least somewhat negative, which may be a consequence of most Londoners living in small spaces.
It may also be a consequence of their type of work: more Londoners are able to work and have indeed been working from home. Altogether, about 44% of respondents to our poll said they have been able to continue working from home. To this group of respondents, we asked them whether they have been working a higher or lower number of hours compared to usual.
16% of Londoners described themselves as working ‘significantly more’ hours than normally. This was higher than any other region in the country. At the same time, the younger generation was also more likely to report working more hours than the older generations.
In fact, when we asked whether respondents working at home found themselves working more often in the evenings and weekends than normally, nearly two-thirds of the youngest age group (18-24) said yes, and a majority of those between 25 and 34 (53%) and between 35 and 44 (52%) said yes as well.
What about people’s free time at home? With the national pastime of going to the pub no longer an option, how are people spending their time.
More than a third of respondents are reading books every day, with an additional 10% reading “almost daily.” 72% of respondents reported streaming a film or television series at least once a week, including 12% who say they are streaming content “several times a day” and 21% streaming “daily.” 30% report going for a walk or run in the park every day, and 20% reported making a video call on a daily basis.
As such, it seems that people are genuinely trying to make the best of it. Respondents also generally seemed open to the possibility that the current shutdown may last sometime longer than presently mandated. When asked how much longer they would be willing to tolerate the present shutdown, a majority of respondents were willing to tolerate a two-month extension to the current measures, including 45% who said they would be willing to tolerate the measures for as long as the Government thought necessary, even if it is longer than two months.
But few people, however, may find this time at home a proper respite. To end our poll, we asked respondents whether they thought they would need a “proper holiday” when all of this is over. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a strong majority of respondents agreed with this sentiment.
Let us hope that their wishes will be soon fulfilled!
This poll is part of Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ ongoing research into public opinion on the coronavirus outbreak and government’s reaction to the crisis. Further results from our polling in the UK, USA, Italy, France, Spain and Germany is featured here.
This research was also published in The Telegraph.