Our research this week highlighted that the majority of the UK public believe the lockdown is being eased too quickly. However, despite continued wariness toward changes in policy, many in the UK are also eager to return to a degree of normality.

Although many will not do so immediately this weekend, a large proportion of the public will soon engage in activities previously prohibited during lockdown. When asked what activities they are most looking forward to doing during the next few weeks as the lockdown eases, a majority (56%) of the public stated they were looking forward to going to see family. Almost half of participants (46%) are looking forward to seeing friends in the next few weeks, while around a third (32%) are looking forward to visiting a hairdresser or barber.

A substantial minority of respondents intend to take immediate advantage of the re-opened hospitality sector. A quarter (25%) of the UK public are looking forward to going to a restaurant over the next few weeks, while 17% state they are looking forward to visiting a pub. Furthermore, as our poll enabled respondents to select up to three activities, it may well be the case that some members of the public are planning on doing a greater number of these pastimes yet were unable to select them all. Just 8% of the public do not intend to engage in any of the activities we provided as options over the next few weeks.

The travel and tourism industry will be encouraged that 12% of the public say they are looking forward to going to another country in the next few weeks as a result of lockdown easing. Up until recently, all those arriving into the UK (barring those from the Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands) were required to self-quarantine for two weeks. However, the Government recently announced a list of 60 countries which will be exempt from the quarantine rules from Friday, July 10. The official announcement of this policy may provide a further boost to the tourism sector.

Overall, 17% of the public stated they intend to book a trip abroad at some point this year, while a further 22% intend to book a holiday in the UK. 10% of the public are still to decide whether to book a holiday in 2020. Only a slight majority (51%) now believe they will not book a holiday at all.

To enable a degree of comparison with how this level of leisure travel compares to a more typical year, we also asked the public if they were intending to book a holiday prior to the coronavirus pandemic. There will clearly be a substantial drop in the number of tourists venturing overseas: 43% of the public had intended to book a holiday outside of the UK before the pandemic, compared to 17% at this stage. However, the proportion of the public intending to take advantage of the UK’s domestic tourism industry remains relatively stable despite coronavirus: 25% intended to travel on holiday within the UK prior to the coronavirus outbreak, while 22% of people now do so. It may be the case that many of those who are no longer considering a trip overseas now intend to travel somewhere in the UK on holiday.

The UK hotel industry, in terms of revenues from domestic travellers, may bounce back relatively rapidly – 57% of the public intend to visit a hotel in the UK at some point during 2020. 6% of those polled on Wednesday intend to visit a hotel either this weekend or next week, a further 10% sometime in July, and 15% at a point in August or September.

The considerably greater proportion of the public who intend to visit a hotel in the UK, compared to those planning to book a holiday in the UK, may suggest that a section of the public who indicated they will travel abroad for leisure will also holiday within the UK. Moreover, it may be the case that a segment of the public believe they will visit a UK hotel on a business trip in 2020 yet are not planning on booking a holiday in the country. Or it could be that certain hotels also include a pub or restaurant or tearoom that respondents are likely to visit.

A large proportion of the public will begin to participate in a range of recreational pastimes at some point during the summer or early Autumn. While only 7% of the public will visit a pub this weekend, a majority (51%) of the public does intend to visit a pub prior to the end of September. Just 27% of respondents think they will not visit a pub until 2021 or later, or not at all. 14% of people altogether intend to visit a pub at some point this weekend or next week, suggesting a decent minority will return relatively soon.

A majority of the public (52%) intend to visit a restaurant before the end of September. 8% of respondents intend to visit a restaurant this weekend or next week. Just 22% of the public believe they will not return to a restaurant until 2021 (or later), or never again.

Responses also indicate that hairdressers and barbers will be busy immediately following their re-opening on Saturday 4th July. 5% of the public intend to visit the hairdresser or barber this weekend, and a further 10% next week. Overall, 61% of respondents intend to visit one by the end of September.  

The readiness of the public to take a vaccine also indicates their desire to find a safe way to return to a normal lifestyle. A strong majority (71%) of the public will get vaccinated within the next year if a coronavirus vaccine becomes available at little to no financial cost. A small minority of 14% would not get themselves vaccinated, while 15% don’t know at this point. Despite the widespread readiness among the public for a coronavirus vaccine, it is currently not known when a vaccine could become universally available.  

As the UK begins to ease lockdown on a large scale, it is clear that the public are relatively keen to return to a degree of normality this month, even as they also remain worried about the pace of this easing. Just a tiny minority of the public will not take any advantage of the lifting of restrictions, and a significant number will visit family, friends, restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and barbers across the next few weeks. Moreover, it seems likely that the tourism and travel sector will be revitalised, to an extent, although the numbers of UK tourists venturing overseas will be less than a typical year. Greater numbers will gradually engage in recreational activities as the summer progresses, and we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies will continue to monitor the public attitudes to participating in these pastimes across the next few months.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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