Britons are excited to see family and friends, spontaneous day trips and dining out when lockdown ends

People are generally more comfortable with the idea of returning to normal activities compared to previous lockdowns, with most looking forward to day trips, holidays, and seeing friends and family

The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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In a new online survey by Ipsos among British adults aged 18-75, taken before Boris Johnson set out the lockdown easing plan, Britons appear generally more comfortable in most aspects of returning to normal life compared to previous lockdowns, including meeting people from other households outside (71%), going to their GP for non-COVID related issues (72%) and shopping in supermarkets and other stores (both 62%). 

A majority would be happy to go to the hairdressers in the next month (57%), an increase of 17 percentage points since last June, sending their children to school (55%) and going to their place of work (54%). 

When considering seeing friends and family, 7 in 10 are comfortable meeting people outside of their household (71%) while 55% would be happy to stay at a friend’s house overnight, up from 50% when asked in June 2020, a third would be uncomfortable with this (32%). Just over half would be happy for other people to come and work in their home in a month’s time, such as nannies, cleaners or builders (53%), when asked last June only 42% were comfortable with this.

Almost 6 in 10 (58%) would be comfortable taking a holiday in the UK, an increase of 9 percentage points since last November, 30% disagree. However, Britons are much less enthusiastic for holidays abroad, only 3 in 10 (30%) would be happy travelling to another country while 51% would not. 

Opinion is split on returning to places of worship, 29% would feel comfortable while 24% disagree. Over 4 in 10 (42%) say they did not do this before the pandemic. 

Visiting indoor museums and exhibitions is the most comfortable leisure activity with 50% happy to visit in a month’s time. Britons are split when it comes to going to bars and restaurants, 45% would enjoy this while 44% would feel uncomfortable. However, people are more likely to feel nervous for going to indoor cinemas and theatres (47% vs. 36% comfortable), indoor gyms, pools and leisure centres (46% uncomfortable vs. 31% comfortable) and large public gatherings (56% vs. 25%).

What are people looking forward to after lockdown?

Looking ahead to the end of lockdown, Britons are most excited to see friends and family, take spontaneous day trips and simply not have to think about coronavirus. 

Over 4 in 5 (83%) are looking forward to meeting friends and family outside of their household while 71% of parents are excited to take their children to see their grandparents. Three-quarters (74%) are looking forward to dining in restaurants with friends. Almost two-thirds (63%) are excited to have friends to their home for dinner and 6 in 10 (60%) are keen to attend parties, such as weddings and birthdays, again. 

What are you excited to do when restrictions end?

More than 6 in 10 (63%) are looking forward to greeting people with handshakes, hugs and kisses again while a majority (54%) are excited to meet new people. Three in ten (31%) Britons are excited to start dating again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, young people are most excited for this, 56% of 18-34s are excited to date compared to only 28% of 35-54s and 12% of 55-75s. 

Six in ten (58%) are looking forward to going back to the pub, increasing to 64% of men compared to 54% of women, and 62% of 18-34-year olds. 

Younger Britons are most excited to return to their normal working life. While three in ten Britons are keen for their commute (31%), those aged 18-34 are most eager to get back to their place of work, 47% are looking forward to their commute while only 21% of 35-54s and 24% of 55-75s feel the same. More than a third (36%) are excited to start dressing smartly for work again, increasing to 52% of 18-34s. Half of Britons are excited to see their work colleagues in person while 16% are not looking forward to this reunion. 

Eighty per cent are looking forward to taking spontaneous day trips while three-quarters (74%) are excited to go on holiday, either in the UK or abroad.

Over 4 in 5 (83%) are excited to simply not have to think about the coronavirus or social distancing. Three-quarters (73%) are excited to not have to wear a face mask in public places. 

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos Research Director Keiran Pedley said:

As an increasing proportion of Britons receive a vaccine, there are signs that the public are becoming more confident about returning to normal life. As expected, people are generally looking forward to meeting friends and family, going on holiday, taking spontaneous day trips and generally not having to think about social distancing and coronavirus any longer. Not everyone is excited however. Some workers are not relishing the return of the commute and getting dressed for work and whilst more than 6 in 10 are looking forward to greeting others with a handshake, kiss or a hug, one in four are not.

Technical note

  • Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,074 British adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 19th to 22nd January 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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