Surprisingly enough, a third of people in the United Kingdom claimed they have enjoyed the coronavirus lockdown so far. That's according to a new study that tracked the emotions of more than 70,000 people during the past 14 weeks. The results come as the UK gradually starts lifting its restrictions.
In summary, the study found that one in every three respondents enjoyed the lockdown, while 46% didn’t enjoy it and 21% had mixed feelings. At the same time, 17% of Britons have not been enjoying the lockdown “at all,” whilst only 4% of people said they enjoyed it “very much.”
Carried out by the University College London (UCL), the study also highlighted the social inequalities that have altered people’s experience during the lockdown. Adults between 30 and 59, those who live with others and those who have a child were the groups that had a more positive experience.
“Of the third of people who report enjoying lockdown, a large number have higher household incomes and live with others or children, suggesting these people may have been less affected by the economic and social restrictions,” said in a statement lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt.
The survey also revealed important shifts in behavior that had an impact on respondents' health. Up to 40% of adults reported gaining weight during lockdown, 17% said they drank more alcohol than usual and 33% reported smoking more. Figures for drinking and smoking only included those who said they usually engage in these behaviors.
The British government imposed on March 23 an unprecedented lockdown, closing many businesses and asking people to leave their homes only for essential purposes. The restrictions have been recently eased in parts of the country, with shops, restaurants and pubs reopening and small gatherings now allowed.
Those who earn less were more likely to dislike the lockdown
With this new reality, most people don’t seem to look forward to the lockdown returning anytime soon. Asked whether they would miss the social restrictions, the results showed that 26% would miss lockdown more than not miss it, 61% felt they would not miss it overall, and 13% had mixed feelings about it.
Public support for the lockdown in the UK was high initially, but a number of political controversies have affected government approval. Most notably, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's refusal to sack a chief aide who breached self-isolation protocol led to anger from the British public.
The UCL study found declining rates of people saying they were complying with the lockdown, though that slump has stabilized in the past week.
"Given that low earners have been most at risk of the negative social and economic consequences of the pandemic it is unsurprising that they have been less likely to enjoy lockdown than those on higher incomes," said in a statement Cheryl Lloyd, education program head at the Nuffield Foundation, which was involved in the research.
Previous studies had shown the Brits enjoyed the changes brought in by the lockdown. In a survey of 20,000 drivers, half said they would walk more to maintain the current lower levels of air pollution, while 40% said they would drive less.