Coronavirus: Britons feel Christmas gatherings should be sacrificed in fight against COVID-19, poll says

·3-min read

Britons believe Christmas gatherings should be sacrificed this year in the battle against coronavirus, as a new poll for Sky News reveals public support for a toughening of restrictions.

A majority of the public say that existing limits on the size of groups - as well as localised restrictions which ban visits to other households - should stay in place over the Christmas period.

Christmas has been made a key yardstick for the prime minister who promised over the summer it would mark a "significant return to normality".

More recently, after the start of the second wave, he declared he wants to save and protect Christmas even though restrictions could still be in place by next spring.

Yet a majority of the public do not agree that Christmas is a priority. A YouGov poll for Sky News found 59% want the current rules to stay in place through the festive period, compared to 30% who say they should be relaxed.

The findings also show the public do not think the prime minister will be successful in relaxing measures by Christmas, with 75% of people thinking the restrictions will still be in place.

Britons take a hardline attitude to restrictions, making clear that they would support tougher measures if coronavirus worsens.

Some 58% support closing pubs and restaurants if cases rise, 52% would ban visits to other people's houses where that is still possible, and 50% would support the closure of non-essential shops and stores.

Even 46% would support a return to the lockdown conditions in place in March, with a ban on people leaving their homes except for essential shopping, work and exercise, with 38% opposing this.

There is less support for this among the young, with 47% of 18 to 24-year-olds opposing a return to the toughest lockdown, and only 32% of over-65s.

The poll found that Britons believe that life has changed for the long haul as a result of coronavirus.

Some 48% think that there will be a ban on big crowds at sporting events for more than six months and 58% think that they will be wearing masks.

This comes at a cost, however.

50% say they are sadder since coronavirus began and 53% say they are more anxious, while 28% say they are worse off financially. Some 29% say they now have a worse relationship with their friends.

The YouGov poll also reveals how public trust in politicians and other key figures has changed.

There has been a big drop in trust in ministers involved in the handling of the pandemic. Boris Johnson is now trusted by 31% to handle coronavirus, down from 51% in April at the height of lockdown.

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Meanwhile Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is trusted by 23%, down from 33%.

However Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, is still trusted by 46%, which is a four point increase on April, while Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, is trusted by 33%, up eight points from April.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's trust rating has also risen to 33%, up from 25% in April weeks after he took over the Labour leadership.

YouGov interviewed 1,678 people on 5 and 6 October.

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