Britons split on support for new coronavirus lockdown rules

Yahoo News UK

Less than a third of Britons understand what the government’s new “stay alert” coronavirus message is asking them to do, according to a poll.

Researchers also found the public are split almost evenly down the middle on whether they support the partial easing of the lockdown announced by Boris Johnson on Sunday evening.

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The overwhelming majority of people – 91% – said the previous slogan “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” made it clear what they were supposed to do.

But just 30% said they thought they knew what the new “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives” slogan means.

Boris Johnson announced the next stage in easing lockdown measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 in a televised address on Sunday evening. (No 10 Downing Street via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson announced the next stage in easing lockdown measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 in a televised address on Sunday evening. (No 10 Downing Street via Getty Images)

The YouGov survey for ITV’s Good Morning Britain said 44% of voters backed the moves to partially ease restrictions, while 43% opposed them.

The poll also found that 46% think the changes go too far in easing the rules, 10% said they do not go far enough and 35% said the balance is about right.

The survey came after Johnson encouraged people like construction workers to return to employment and said a phased reopening of schools and non-essential shops in England could also potentially begin from 1 June if transmission can be reduced.

The government created several slides to illustrate how lockdown may be eased in Britain
The government created several slides to illustrate how lockdown may be eased in Britain

But by Monday afternoon hundreds of thousands of people had signed a petition calling for parents to be allowed not to send their children to school if they reopen.

The petition has accumulated more than 300,000 signatures in just six days.

Boris Johnson suggested some primary school pupils could return to schools by 1 June if the spread of COVID-19 can be managed. (Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson suggested some primary school pupils could return to schools by 1 June if the spread of COVID-19 can be managed. (Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images)

Other measures revealed in the broadcast include allowing people to visit parks for leisure and to meet one other person outdoors if they observe social distancing measures.

Johnson said: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own household.”

Following his message, a government official reportedly said that, in fact, people could sunbathe or chat in a park with one other person from a different household, leading to more confusion.

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People in England can now visit a local park to relax, but guidance on who they can meet has been labelled unclear. (Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
People in England can now visit a local park to relax, but guidance on who they can meet has been labelled unclear. (Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

Critics have been swift to label the new slogan and suggested easing of lockdown as unclear and open to interpretation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said after the speech: "I think what the country wanted tonight was real clarity and a sense of consensus – and I'm afraid we haven't got that.

"There are more questions than answers in the prime minister's statement... Clarity isn't there.”

Starmer vowed to pose questions to the prime minister when they meet in Parliament on Monday.

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