People in every county of England and Wales are prepared by overwhelming majorities to support local lockdowns if coronavirus flares up in their area, according to a new survey.
Boris Johnson’s “whack-a-mole” strategy of imposing targeted restrictions on areas with Covid-19 clusters has already seen bans on social contacts and shop opening in cities like Manchester, Leicester, Bradford and Luton.
Many of the restrictions have been withdrawn after signs of success in preventing spread of the infection, but the strategy depends on the willingness of local populations temporarily to give up freedoms which people elsewhere in the country are able to enjoy.
Today’s YouGov survey suggested that only a minority of adults anywhere in the country would “oppose” or “strongly oppose” local lockdowns if they were called in their areas.
Highest levels of opposition were recorded in the City of London (33 per cent), Pembrokeshire and Swansea (both 24 per cent) and West Yorkshire (18 per cent). Numbers saying they would “strongly oppose” local lockdowns were highest in the city of Bristol (13 per cent), Shropshire (12 per cent) and Wiltshire (10 per cent).
But in every part of the country, majorities said they would “support” or “strongly support” a local lockdown, with a clear majority saying they would strongly support the measures in all but five counties.
Tellingly, two of the counties affected by existing local lockdowns – West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester – recorded the lowest levels of support for renewed restrictions.
But even there, some 45 per cent in Greater Manchester and 44 per cent in West Yorkshire said they would “strongly support” future lockdowns. Some 35 per cent in Greater Manchester said they would “support”, 9 per cent “oppose” and 7 per cent “strong oppose” them, while the figures for West Yorkshire were 32 per cent “support”, 8 per cent “oppose” and 10 per cent “strongly oppose”.
Highest levels of “strong support” for local lockdowns were found in Northumberland (78 per cent), Cheshire (68 per cent) and East Sussex (66 per cent).
Across the whole of England and Wales, some 57 per cent of adults said they would “strongly support” a local lockdown and 28 per cent “support” it, against 6 per cent who would “oppose” and 5 per cent “strongly oppose”.
Connor Ibbetson, research manager at YouGov, said: “New YouGov research shows that most adults in England are in strong support of a local lockdown in their area, were there to be an increase of local cases.
“Following the introduction of local lockdown measures in Leicester, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and other areas, support to take these extra steps in order to keep the level of coronavirus infection at bay is widespread.
“The county with the highest number of residents that strongly support a lock lockdown is Northumberland, while the City of Bristol is the most likely to be strongly opposed.”
– YouGov questioned 25,592 adults between 7 and 14 August.