Six months ago, lockdown measures were introduced in Great Britain to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Throughout the pandemic, we have been asking people about their opinions and behaviours, and for the first time we present people’s experiences in their own words.
Whilst in self-isolation, my life is on hold.
Lockdown measures were first introduced on 23 March. While this created huge changes for many, with schools, workplaces and all non-essential retailers being ordered to close, more than half of adults surveyed at the time said they thought life would be back to normal within six months.
By late August, “more than a year” was the most popular response, with over a third (37%) of adults saying they thought this is how long the pandemic would last.
“How long do you think it will be before your life returns to normal?” Base population: all adults
Many people were unsure, and uncertainty remained a consistent theme:
Lack of any idea about when and how things might “return to normal”. Uncertainty ahead. No vaccine ready. Not being able to go out with the kids to do basic things such as the park, cinema, or walk around.
I miss being able to hug the people that I love and can’t be with. Skype is great, but it’s not the same.
In the first two weeks of April, half of adults said their well-being was being affected by the pandemic. By this time, many had been confined to their homes, except for essential shopping and exercise, for several weeks.
Alongside this, the number of death registrations involving COVID-19 was at its highest: the number of weekly deaths in England and Wales recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was 8,758 on the week ending 17 April. In the same week, lockdown measures were extended for a further three weeks.
“How anxious did you feel yesterday? Where 0 is ‘not at all’ and 10 is ‘completely’”. Base population: all adults.
“How happy did you feel yesterday? Where 0 is ‘not at all’ and 10 is ‘completely’”. Base population: all adults.
Compared to pre-pandemic levels, happiness was lower and anxiety was higher, and many comments from respondents reflect this.
I’m at the wrong end of life to have quality and length of life stolen. very unhappy and stressed, can’t see any end to this.
Video calling family made 100% difference to my life. Initially 45% of adults said they were worried about the future, with other common reasons being boredom, feeling stressed or anxious, or feeling lonely.
Am unable to do any of the things which normally fill my life and keep loneliness at bay, i.e. visiting friends, shopping, visiting places of interest, seeing children.
Have no social life as can’t see my son or friends so feeling isolated and lonely.
“In the past seven days, how has your well-being being affected?”. Base population: all adults.
Respondents were able to select more than one option. There were further response options available, and the chart shows the most common responses across the weeks.
While many struggled, some people saw improvements to their well-being, and others reported an increased sense of community spirit, with 80% of adults saying they thought people were doing more to help others since the outbreak:
It’s not affecting me at all really. I enjoy my own company, gardening, reading, baking and walking my two dogs. Life’s pretty good.
The village has organised volunteers who will help if needed.
The expectation from our employers is high and there is very little time to help our twins. It is very stressful, and I feel incredibly guilty.
Between 7 May and 7 June 2020, 87% of parents said a child in their household had been homeschooled because of the coronavirus.
Only half of adults said they felt confident in their abilities to homeschool, 43% said homeschooling was negatively affecting their child’s well-being, and 36% said homeschooling was putting a strain on their relationships.
At the end of May, 39% of parents reported that their children were struggling to continue their education at home, and this rose to 60% by mid-June. The most common reasons given were a lack of motivation, and a lack of parents’ time to provide support.
My wife is struggling to teach our daughter while I’m working. It is extremely stressful, there are constant rows and awful behaviour.
Only one child was allowed to go back to school, so rather than adding additional strain to the school, we kept her home with her sisters.
My child is not motivated to self-direct her learning and her education is really suffering.
I’ve actually really enjoyed having my family home and homeschooling our kids.
I still don’t feel safe when I go outside, not everyone keeps their distance.
As lockdown measures eased across the country during May, June and July, many people were able to spend more time outdoors and socialise with loved ones.
The number of people meeting up with others and visiting pubs or restaurants rose throughout the summerProportion of people who said they’d left home in the last seven days for different reasons
In the past seven days, for what reasons have you left your home?”. Base population: all adults.
Respondents were able to select more than one option. There were further response options available, and the chart shows the most common responses relating to socialising and travel.
At this time of changing restrictions, people were less certain, with the proportion of adults that said they had enough information about the UK’s plans for dealing with the virus at its lowest (41%) on the weekend following the first easing of lockdown measures in England in mid-May.
While individuals’ freedoms increased, the dangers presented by the virus were still clear to see, with deaths registered in England and Wales involving COVID-19 reaching a total of 50,000 in the week up to 26June. Seeing others going out and socialising could have also intensified feelings of loneliness and anxiety for those still staying at home or self-isolating, as loneliness rose in mid-June, with one in five people reporting feeling lonely.
My neighbour has little to no regard for the rules and frequently has large gatherings of people breaking social distancing, drinking together outside my home.
I felt nervous when going into an enclosed space such as the garden centre. I have lost a bit of self-confidence about being near other people in case they don’t respect social distancing.
For others, the problem was spending too much time with others in their household. By June, the proportion of adults reporting a strain on their personal relationships was at its highest at 15%.
I have absolutely no me time and it feels like wall to wall family time.
Cooped up with 2 young children, not being able to have a break from them.
[I wear a face mask] while putting the bins out. Literally whenever I leave the house for any reason.
The use of face coverings was made mandatory at different times across Great Britain, and the proportion of adults reporting having worn a face covering in the last seven days increased in line with when they became a requirement.
More people reported having worn face coverings in public places following regulations being introduced
The proportion of people reporting having worn a face covering in public in the last seven days, by country
In the past seven days, have you used a face covering when outside your home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?” Base population: Adults who have left their home in the past 7 days.
It became mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport in England on 15 June, in Scotland on 22 June and in Wales on 27 July.
Face coverings were made mandatory in shops in Scotland on 10 July, in England on 24 July and in Wales on 14 September.
At the end of July, 82% of adults said they strongly support, or tend to support, the mandatory wearing of face coverings. However some people also displayed concerns:
I now have shopping delivered, because I DON’T want to wear a mask.
Missing human touch and general interaction affected by mask wearing – missing a lot of communication and connection as a result.
Diary Of Uknown Person