73% are still avoiding physical contact outdoors, with Brits increasingly cautious in recent weeks

  • Increased handwashing looks set to stay beyond the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions for most people, particularly women
  • Masks are likely to stay, with 96% of Brits wearing a face covering when outside the house in the last 7 days
  • Londoners use face coverings the most, with 98% wearing a mask when outside their home in the last week
  • The number of people actively social distancing was at its highest in January and February but has been declining ever since this is despite the number of people self-isolating being double what it was in May

The lifting of Covid-19 restrictions on 19th July has been termed “Freedom Day”, the first day since Covid-19 safety measures were introduced that people can gather without legal limits on group size, social distancing, or mask-wearing.

But ahead of England’s Freedom Day, Brits are feeling more cautious of physical contact. Three-quarters (73%) reported avoiding contact outside their home, a figure that rose steadily through June/July despite having been on a downward trend since March.

The findings come from life insurance broker, Reassured, who analysed ONS data on attitudes to Covid-19 safety measures in the UK, to determine how Brits may feel and behave as restrictions lift on 19th July.

Washing hands covid best practice

Increased handwashing looks set to continue, with 84% of people still regularly washing their hands. This is particularly true for women - in the last seven days, 65% of women reported “always” washing their hands after returning home from a public place, compared to 55% of men.

Most people are still social distancing regularly, but the number doing this consistently has been dropping since mid-February. Just a third (34%) said they’ve ‘always’ social distanced in July (so far) compared with 44% in June (44%) and 59% in May.

The analysis showed that the number of people practising social distancing is likely to decline further once official guidance to do so is removed.

Phil Jeynes, Director of Corporate Strategy at Reassured, said:

Phil Jeynes

With restrictions in England lifting, many people will be excited to return to some sense of normality, whether that’s being able to attend large events or just gather with friends and family without the need to keep a social distance.

But our analysis shows that some aspects of Covid-19 safety measures may continue beyond 19th July with many choosing to carry on with these - particularly more regular handwashing, which 84% of us are continuing to do.

We could also see face coverings continue to be used after the official guidance is withdrawn, with the vast majority of Brits wearing a face mask in public places in the last seven days. However, as this has been a legal requirement, it is too early to say exactly how people will react to this rule change.

In addition, with almost three quarters of Brits still avoiding physical contact when they leave the house, we may not see an immediate return to normal life, regardless of whether restrictions are in place or not.


Percentage of adults avoiding physical contact when outside their home in the past seven days - July 2020 to July 2021

Graph 1 Covid-19

Percentage of adults always/often handwashing with soap and water after returning home from a public place - May 2020 to July 2021

Graph 2 Covid-19

Percentage of adults that have used a face covering when outside their home in the past seven days - May 2020 to July 2021

Graph 3 Covid-19


-ENDS-

Notes for editors:

For further information, please contact Cheryl Crossley (cheryl.crossley@ingenuitydigital.co.uk) or Giada Origlia via (giada.origlia@ingenuitydigital.co.uk)

Methodology & sources

We analysed the most recent and historic ‘Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain’ data from the ONS.

Data was downloaded from here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/datasets/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritaindata/current

In most instances, the same data points have been collected since March 2020, from a weighted count of at least 45,000,000, with a sample size of at least 1,000.

The insight around the lockdown dates was taken from here: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/timeline-lockdown-web.pdf

A full breakdown of the data analysis is available on request.

About Reassured

Reassured is the UK’s largest life insurance broker.

We specialise in arranging suitable life insurance and funeral plans for families across the country.

Our service is rated as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot with over 50,000 independent customer reviews.

We are proud to have helped protect over 1,000,000 families in the UK.

Reassured are FCA regulated and our award-winning service is completely fee-free providing customers with the best quote and all the information needed to make an informed decision.

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