Majority of public thought Covid-19 pandemic would be over by now

Levels of anxiety and happiness saw the greatest change when lockdown was introduced compared with pre-pandemic levels, researchers added.

For the first time, the ONS also detailed people’s personal responses to the pandemic. In April, one respondent said: “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.”

As lockdown measures eased over the summer and social activity picked up, loneliness also increased, the ONS said. A fifth of adults reported feeling lonely in mid-June, it said, suggesting their feelings may have intensified because many others were going out and socialising again.

Others were fearful about leaving their homes, with one respondent saying they wore a face mask while putting their bins out.

One respondent in June said: “I still don’t feel safe when I go outside – not everyone keeps their distance,” while another added: “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.”

The data, published on Wednesday, comes from the weekly Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

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