Social tensions in Britain over measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic are now deeper than those over the decision to leave the European Union, new polling suggests.
The nationwide survey of more than 10,000 people found that half of mask-wearers in the UK (58%) have “severely negative attitudes towards non-mask wearers”. And most people (68%) who do not break lockdown rules have “strong negative views” about those who flout the regulations, according to the research by think tank Demos.
By contrast, only 33% of people who did not vote Leave in the 2016 EU referendum “resent, hate, or think people who voted for Brexit are bad people”, while 26% either “admire, respect or think they are good people”, the survey found.
A sizeable minority of people who stick to the government guidance on Covid said they “hate” or “resent” people who do not, The Guardian reports. A total of 12% of mask-wearers said they hated those who did not wear face coverings, while 14% of lockdown adherents hate rule breakers.
“We are still just as angry with each other, but about different things,” said Polly Mackenzie, chief executive of Demos, which conducted the online poll between 31 July and 7 August. “People’s experience has been so divergent. What has been good for one person has been awful for someone else.
“Social trust is really important for economic growth, so even if you only care about growth, the country has to be able to get along with each other. Being divided will impact on our recovery.”
The publication of the poll results comes just days after Boris Johnson announced new restrictions, including a blanket ban on social gatherings of more than six people, following a rise in Covid cases and related deaths.
The prime minister also revealed plans to introduce “Covid-secure marshals”, in order to “increase the capacity of local bodies to enforce the restrictions”, says the i news site.