Fewer people following lockdown guidance since Dominic Cummings story broke, finds national survey

Fewer people report they followed guidance on social distancing and ‘Stay at Home’ following Dominic Cummings’ admission that he drove from London to Durham during lockdown.

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Mr Cummings in the Rose Garden of 10 Downing Street, where he gave a press conference

In a survey of 1,201 people across the UK carried out by academics at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), the number of people who admitted they had behaved inconsistent with the government guidance because they did not agree with it increased from 4% to 9% over the space of the last week.

Researchers Professor Edward Cartwright and Dr Jonathan Rose have been carrying out surveys across the UK to try to research the impact of the pandemic on people’s trust, behaviour, attitudes to finance, and healthcare.

They said: “Over the past week we saw a reduction in the number of people saying they followed government guidance. Particularly telling was a doubling in the number of people who said they behaved inconsistent with the government guidance because they did not agree with aspects of it. This increase is statistically significant and robust to demographic controls.  

“There are two explanations for our findings. It could be that people are more willing to discuss their past breaches of the lockdown or that more people have broken the lockdown in the past week. Either way it will likely undermine attempts to police the restrictions and maintain public support for them. We also found a statistically significant decline in trust for Conservative politicians.”

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Mr Cummings' visit to Barnard Castle was, he said, to test if he was fit to drive

Prof Cartwright and Dr Rose carried out their first survey with 1001 people on 20 May, before news broke in the Daily Mirror and The Guardian that Mr Cummings had travelled to his parents’ home in Durham as he feared his wife had coronavirus. They then carried out a follow up survey with 200 people on the 27 May to explore the effect of the news.

Across all 1,201 people interviewed in both surveys, 69 per cent of people reporting they followed government guidance at all times, while 31% reported breaking the guidance to help others, because of a personal need (e.g. work), or because they do not agree with the guidance itself.

Mr Cummings claimed he acted within the guidelines given for ‘exceptional circumstances’ to protect his child. The PM, Boris Johnson, has defended his actions.

In a statement released on Thursday 28 May, Durham Police said Dominic Cummings may have breached lockdown rules when he drove from his parents' home in Durham to Barnard Castle on his wife's birthday on April 12.

Posted on Sunday 31 May 2020

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