Lockdown easing raises COVID concerns

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COVID concern indices have reversed their downward trend, as personal and family worries are up by 7% each, reflecting a continued lack of trust in easing measures.

Government decisions not based on medical data

With 45% in our research panel ‘very’ to ‘extremely’ worried about the UK government’s latest COVID-related guidance, the picture remains little changed from last week. Many respondents are uneasy about the lack of transparency in cabinet minutes and government’s decision-making process. This concern is amplified by the lack of alignment in the response between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is perceived as reluctant to get into details on COVID-19 policies, which some respondents feel lack logic, as salons will be allowed to cut hair but not do nails, and pubs will open while the number of families that can meet is still limited. 

In the absence of clear guidelines for businesses, it is not obvious yet how working arrangements will change in the long term. Respondents say that policy adjustments appear arbitrary and are disproportionately hurting some businesses, as work has completely dried up for some of the self-employed in our weekly survey. 

Lockdown is being eased too quickly

Because the UK government is pre-releasing policy changes, lockdown is in effect easing faster than policy dictates. Some in our research panel say that the approach promoted by UK officials of using “good, solid British common sense” should be sufficient as transmission rates improve and the immediate threat seems to have gone. 

But there is still no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, or a working track and trace system, so the government’s messaging that ‘it is over’ is seen as confusing. New Zealand, where new cases of coronavirus increased from a base of zero, is one important reminder that the virus is still in circulation, as is Leicester’s lockdown extension after a spike in new daily infections. 

Some members of our research panel say that just like the UK should have gone into lockdown a week earlier than it did, and it should have kept the 2m rule and other restrictions in place for longer. It is likely these concerns are pushing back the optimistic estimate for the end of the outbreak, which respondents currently expect to be in November, further and further.

Not in a rush to get back to normal

Given the uncertainty in both the medical data and government policy, many in our research panel are exercising caution: they continue working from home, not being in a rush to commute into the office. While some trust the common sense of those around them, others are waiting to see the impact of the next easing measures before they attempt a return to normality.  

Is lockdown being eased too quickly or too slowly? Click here to tell us in next week’s survey.


Previous articles in this series: 


About the COVID Concern Index 

This short weekly survey helps gauge sentiment of our community on the pandemic. The results are distributed each week via the community newsletter. 

The COVID Concern Index values should be used as indication only and do not constitute advice. Their values are bound by the choices available in the survey on which they are based. 

COVID Concern Index:                                         

Expected minimum duration of outbreak:                                 

Expected minimum duration of macro effects:

A methodology change took place on 15/04/2020, affecting data from 21/04/2020 onwards. 

Prior to 15/04/2020:              

Following 15/04/2020:          

Concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and its macro implications? Click here to take part in the weekly COVID-19 survey.

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