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30 October 2020updated 25 Jul 2021 11:17am

Polling: Majority of Brits support a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown

Exclusive polling for the New Statesman reveals most people back a short, sharp national shutdown.

By Anoosh Chakelian

A majority of the British public would support a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown, according to new polling for the New Statesman.

When presented with the idea of a short “circuit breaker” national lockdown – as suggested for “immediate introduction” in September by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), and endorsed by Labour leader Keir Starmer for two or three weeks in October – 56 per cent of respondents supported the concept, and just 18 per cent opposed it, according to exclusive polling by Redfield and Wilton Strategies. A plurality of respondents (47 per cent) said the “circuit breaker” should begin immediately.

[See also: The longer Boris Johnson waits to impose a lockdown, the longer England will stay there]

Conservative and Labour voters appear in agreement over this issue, with 59 per cent of respondents who voted Tory at the last election supporting a “circuit breaker” and 60 per cent of respondents who voted Labour at the last election backing one. Similarly, 48 per cent of Conservative voters and 50 per cent of Labour voters believe a lockdown should be imposed immediately.

The majority of people – 53 per cent – also believe there will be a third wave of coronavirus at some point next year, and 59 per cent would encourage their family and friends to get vaccinated were a vaccine to become available at little or no cost within the next year.

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When survey respondents were presented with the idea of a national lockdown – rather than a time-limited “circuit breaker” – only 38 per cent supported it. Even fewer, at 28 per cent, favoured the continuation of “tiers” instead of a national lockdown, and 21 per cent think the government should abandon lockdowns and focus solely on protecting the elderly and vulnerable.

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[See also: Keir Starmer’s support for a circuit breaker lockdown is smart politics – but it’s not an easy fix]

With Wales and Northern Ireland adopting versions of a national “circuit breaker”, and England and Scotland using the tiered system, the government in Westminster continues to favour a regional over national approach to lockdown.

This policy decision resulted in a recent stand-off with the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who sought to resist tier three status for the city region while he fought for extra financial support.

Most people polled, however, believe the government should have the final say on local coronavirus restrictions, at 51 per cent. Just 27 per cent think the local mayor or council leader should decide, 14 per cent don’t know, and 7 per cent answered “other”.

[See also: Where next for local lockdown? Use our tracker to find out]