Nearly 9 in 10 Britons say it is either essential or important to wear a facemask in public to stop the spread of coronavirus

While a large majority agree that it is important to wear a facemask in various situations, there is also strong support for government rules making it mandatory to wear one in shops

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
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In a new survey by Ipsos MORI, almost 9 in 10 (86%) Britons say it is either essential or important for people to wear a facemask in certain public situations, such as shopping or using public transport, to stop the spread of coronavirus. More than 1 in 3 (37%) say it is essential.  Just 1 in 10 say it is not important.

Importance of wearing a facemaskTwo-thirds (67%) of Britons support making it the law to wear a face mask in shops. Just 16% oppose. 13% neither support nor oppose and 3% say they don’t know.

One in four (25%) say that having rules in place making it mandatory to wear a mask while visiting shops will make them more likely to go shopping, 21% say less likely and half (51%) say it will make no difference. 42% of 18-24s say these new rules will make the more likely to go shopping but 64% of those aged 65-75 say it will make no difference.

Impact of wearing a facemaskThree in ten (28%) say they already wear a mask, up from 7% at the end of April. Whilst 55% say they are likely to wear one in the near future, an increase from 34%. 15% say it is unlikely they will wear a mask in the near future (down from 51%). 

Those that either wear a mask now or plan to do so cite the following as the main reasons:

  • Want to stop the spread of coronavirus to others 59%
  • I want to protect myself 52%
  • The government has said we should 47%
  • The scientific advice says we should 42%

Those that say it is unlikely they will wear a mask tend to give the following reasons:

  • I don’t believe facemasks prevent the spread of coronavirus 39%
  • It would be uncomfortable 35%
  • It goes against my personal freedoms 28%

A full list of reasons given can be found in the accompanying slide pack.

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

These numbers show strong public support for the principle of wearing a mask in certain public situations to combat the spread of coronavirus. Two-thirds support rules making it mandatory to wear a mask in shops. However, we should be careful about reading too much into the impact such rules will have on behaviour in the short term. Although there is no net negative impact on the likelihood of Britons to go shopping as a result of these rules, half currently say it will make no difference rising to almost two-thirds among those aged 65-75.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,081 British adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 17th - 20th July 2020. 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

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