Fixating on the actions of a handful of ‘covidiots’ will only undermine compliance among the population as a whole
There is a paradox at the heart of this pandemic. Since before England’s first lockdown, politicians, media pundits and government advisers have voiced concerns that the public would be the weak link in controlling infections. Judging by polling and social media posts decrying lockdown violations and “covidiots”, the public also share this concern. Yet it always seems to be other people who are breaking the rules. A recent University College London study showed that 92% of people considered themselves to be adhering more than average to lockdown restrictions.
The systematic evidence tells a different story. Whether you consider what people say in surveys, systematic observations of behaviour or analyses of transport use, the evidence suggests that adherence with lockdown restrictions is remarkably high. This was true in the spring, when early data showed that more than nine in 10 people were observing the spring lockdown – even though half of them were suffering significantly. It was true during the November lockdown, and remains true to this day. Indeed, recent analysis shows that, if anything, adherence to social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene measures is higher than ever.