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What you told us about covid and the lockdown in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:46 14 September 2020

Shoppers are back in the town centre - but many people remain very nervous about going shopping.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shoppers are back in the town centre - but many people remain very nervous about going shopping. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah Lucy Brown

Many readers remain very worried about the Covid-19 pandemic – and are still a long way from returning to “normality”, according to our recent survey about life after lockdown.

Offices have been largely empty for months, but do staff want to return?  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOOffices have been largely empty for months, but do staff want to return? Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Two weeks ago we asked our readers how they had felt during lockdown – and how they saw the future as Covid-19 continues to blight the country and cases start to rise again.

We had about 1,500 responses – and the results show that while some people have enjoyed the relaxations that have come over the last three months, there is still major concern.

And working patterns for many people might take a long time to return to pre-covid normality, or could have changed for ever.

We would like to thank everyone who took the trouble to take part in the survey either in the newspaper or online.

Could the covid crisis be good news for Suffolk tourism bosses? Picture: ARCHANTCould the covid crisis be good news for Suffolk tourism bosses? Picture: ARCHANT

Lifestyle and general attitudes:

The vast majority of people who took part in our survey say they abided by the restrictions – although a few had had a few indiscretions. Only a tiny minority said they had not obeyed the lockdown rules.

But while many of the restrictions have been eased, many people remain very nervous – half still feel nervous about shopping and two thirds would be nervous about visiting a pub.

Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams and Visit East of England sees the results of the survey as an opportunity for tourism in the region.  Picture: ADNAMS/ ANTHONY CULLENAndy Wood, CEO of Adnams and Visit East of England sees the results of the survey as an opportunity for tourism in the region. Picture: ADNAMS/ ANTHONY CULLEN

Visiting friends at their home was the most-missed activity during lockdown.

Most people (84%) fear the effects of lockdown will last for years – but there is an even split between those who think we will return to something like the pre-Covid normality and those who feel this has changed society forever.

And while lockdown was clearly a negative experience for most people, nearly half of those who took part felt that if there is a second wave of Covid we should have a second lockdown rather than allowing schools to reopen or the economy to recover.

MORE: Can face masks help boost confidence for people?

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere is hopeful that the area will recover from the covid crisis. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDIpswich council leader David Ellesmere is hopeful that the area will recover from the covid crisis. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Jobs and work:

Many people have worked at home during the lockdown. The survey found that only one in eight of those who had switched to home working wanted to return to full-time workplace-based employment once all restrictions are lifted.

Just over half wanted to split their working time between home and workplace in future – while a third wanted to continue working full-time from home indefinitely. That will be a major blow to the government and organisations hoping to persuade employers and workers to bring staff back to offices.

Many people remain nervous about visiting pubs and restaurants. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMany people remain nervous about visiting pubs and restaurants. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

More than a third of those who took part in our survey are retired, but of those who are of working age more than three quarters still felt very or relatively secure in their jobs. Others felt less secure and a small number were looking for work.

Of those in employment, just over 60% had continued to work throughout while 21% had been furloughed at some point. A small number had lost their job after being furloughed while the rest remained unemployed.

MORE: Council office staff to continue working from home

Ipswich Central's Terry Baxter said people were returning to the town centre, but accepted that it was important to build the confidence of shoppers. Picture; NICOLE DRURY/IBCIpswich Central's Terry Baxter said people were returning to the town centre, but accepted that it was important to build the confidence of shoppers. Picture; NICOLE DRURY/IBC

Travel and holidays:

The survey suggests that most people will not be changing their travel habits significantly – probably because most see their main means of transport as the private car which is seen as one of the safest ways to travel in a post-covid world.

However about one six said they are walking and cycling more – and the respondents said they were using public transport less.

On holidays, most people who took part in the survey had not been planning to take foreign holidays anyway in 2020. And the covid crisis seems to have encouraged even more to plan a UK holiday next year – with nearly a quarter of people saying they were planning a holiday in Suffolk or elsewhere in East Anglia.

Shopping:

People who took part in the survey are almost equally split on whether they feel safe visiting shops – either supermarkets or town centre stores.

However there does seem to have been a shift in shopping habits during lockdown and since restrictions were eased.

Only a quarter of people said it would not change their shopping habits while more than 40% said they would do more shopping online – possibly reflecting the fact that if people are working at home it is more likely that there will be someone at home when deliveries arrive.

Some people said they would do more “big shops” at the supermarket or use local shops more – but less than 1% of people who responded said they would shop more in town centres post-lockdown. Evidence does suggest, however, that shoppers are returning to town centres, although they may be shoppers who were already regular visitors to them.

The survey also suggests that well over half the people who took part have spent less since lockdown was eased with only 10% seeing their spending increase.

Health:

Only a tiny proportion of those who took part in our survey had had direct experience of Covid-19 (and two thirds of those had not had a test) even though the pandemic has had a major impact on all our lives in 2020.

Just over half of those who took part in the survey felt the lockdown and restrictions had had little effect on either their mental or physical health – while about a third felt it had had a bad effect on them. A smaller proportion felt their health had benefitted from the events of the last six months.

Leisure:

While lockdown has eased over the last three months, many people still feel uncomfortable about the idea of taking part in some of the activities they would normally be used to – including eating out in restaurants and going to a pub.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme may have been a boost to some places during August, but more than 60% of those in the survey still feel nervous about eating out.

Nearly half the people who took part had enjoyed a takeaway meal from a restaurant during lockdown – and the vast majority of them will continue to use those services.

MORE: Eat out to help out boosted Suffolk restaurants and pubs

What civic leaders say about the findings of our survey:

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere was sceptical about some of the findings because in the middle of a crisis it was difficult to see the likely long-term effects – but accepted many people did still feel very anxious about the pandemic.

He said: “The comments about people still feeling nervous about going out or returning to their workplace are in line with what we hear quite a bit. But we heard that the world had changed after the death of Princess Diana and then again when we had the financial crash 12 years ago – and eventually normality returned.

“I think this time might take longer but I’m not sure we can write off the office just yet. Working at home is still a novelty for many people – but for many they’ve also been looking after children and they’ve had their partner at home

“Now the children are going back to school and others are going back to work. Being stuck behind a computer at home may get very lonely and I think at that point people will start to want to return to work with others.

“A few weeks ago there was some uproar when it was suggested that the over 50s should have tighter rules because they were more at risk from the virus.

“Now it is growing in the younger age groups and it looks as if the over-50s are observing a self-imposed curfew while those getting Covid are those who tend not to be so seriously affected.”

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “These figures demonstrate the real impact that covid-19 has had on life in Suffolk. Many people have changed their way of life, sacrificed things they hold dear and been selfless in the interest of the greater good.

“There can be no doubt that the way we live, work and interact will be different for the forseeable future and this likely to be one of the many legacies of this pandemic.

“Our job is to make sure that the future is the kind that we want it to be, of our design and making, and that benefits and supports everyone.

“I’d like to reassure residents in Suffolk that that is exactly what public sector partners in Suffolk are working on, for now and years to come.”

The findings do look challenging for businesses in Ipswich town centre which are anxious to attract back customers after the lockdown – and the nervousness about shopping and visiting pubs, cafes and restaurants does appear to be a concern.

But Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter said his members took heart from the fact that footfall numbers in the town were improving – although they were still nowhere near pre-lockdown days.

He said: “We know there is an issue with confidence, but that will build as people see what we are doing to make the town safe. But it is understandable that there is concern still, especially with the news of the last few days.”

Ipswich Central is still hoping to encourage more employers and workers back to their town centre workplaces – but he accepted that could be a slow process and it would depend on a build up of confidence.

The figures about holidays – and the number of people thinking of taking UK or even East Anglian holidays next year – was welcomed by Andy Wood who is chief executive of Visit East of England, the regional tourism body.

He said: “I am really encouraged by the findings in this survey with almost 70% of respondents considering a UK-based holiday in 2021 and with Suffolk and East Anglia featuring highly on people’s choice lists.

“We have enjoyed a wonderful late summer on the East Suffolk Coast and the whole industry has dealt with covid restrictions so very well. Let’s now cautiously begin to look forward to what 2021 could be in our beautiful part of the world on the back of this good news.”

Mr Wood is also boss of Suffolk brewers Adnams and said his company’s pub managers had been encouraged by the number of customers who had returned since lockdown restrictions were eased in July.

What you told us in the survey:

LOCKDOWN AND RESTRICTIONS

Did you abide by all the restrictions during lockdown, and those since?

1. Yes, all of them 63%

2. Yes, with a few minor indiscretions 34%

3. No 3%

What did you miss most during lockdown?

1. Visiting friends at their home 42%

2. Going to the pub/cafe to meet friends 13%

3. Going out for a meal or to the pub with your family (those you live with) 16%

4. Going to the theatre/concerts/cinema 7%

5. Meeting friends at clubs, societies, or day centre activities 7%

6. Shopping 10%

7. Live sporting events 5%

EMPLOYMENT

What has your employment status been for the majority of the year?

1. Working permanently 39%

2. Furloughed for some of the time 14%

3. Furloughed then lost job 3%

4. Unemployed 8%

5. Retired 36%

If you worked from home, what are your thoughts about future working?

1. Enjoyed it, would like to do it permanently 11%

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2. Would like to return to full-time office working 4%

3. Want the future to be a mix of home-working and office working 17%

N/A 68%

How do you feel about your job security?

1. I feel very secure 19%

2. I feel relatively secure 26%

3. I don’t feel secure at all 9%

4. Looking for a job 4 %

N/A 42%

SHOPPING

How will Covid impact on your shopping habits? Which of these applies most to you?

1. Little change 27%

2. I will shop more online 41%

3. I will shop more locally 13%

4. I will shop in town centres 0%

5. I will do bigger ‘weekly shops’, and fewer ‘top-up’ shops. 19%

Do you feel safe shopping in shops, supermarkets and town centres?

1. yes 49%

2. no 51%

What have your spending habits been like SINCE lockdown was eased?

1. I’ve spent less than compared to normal 57%

2. I’ve spent about the same 33%

3. I’ve spent more 10%

LEISURE

How do you feel about going to the pub?

1. I wouldn’t hesitate because of all the safety precautions in place 33%

2. I still feel nervous about it 67%

How do you feel about eating out?

1. I wouldn’t hesitate because of all the safety precautions in place 39%

2. I still feel nervous about it 61%

Did you use takeaway services from restaurants during lockdown?

1. Yes 44%

2. No 56%

Would you continue to use these takeaway services?

1. Yes 44%

2. No 12%

N/A 44%

HOLIDAYS

Did you go ahead with a holiday abroad this summer?

1. Yes 4%

2. No, I had no plans 64%

3. We had plans but the holiday was cancelled 32%

Where do you think you will holiday in 2021?

1. Europe 23%

2. Long haul 8%

3. UK 47%

4. East Anglia 11%
5. Suffolk 11%

TRANSPORT

Which applies most to your travel habits post-Covid?

1. I’ll walk or cycle more rather than driving or taking public transport for short distances. 16%

2. Little change to what I did pre-Covid 70%

3. I will use public transport less 13%

4. I will use public transport more 1%

HEALTH

Have you ever tested positive for Covid-19?

1. Yes 2%

2. No 94%

3. I had symptoms but never had a test 4%

How do you feel your mental health has fared since March?

1. It’s about the same 56%

2. It’s got worse 36%

3. It’s got better 8%

How do you feel your physical health has fared since March?

1. It’s about the same 51%

2. It’s got worse 34%

3. It’s got better 15%

How optimistic do you feel about the UK’s recovery from Covid-19?

1. I’m staying positive and think we’ll bounce back quickly 11%

2. We will get back to something like the old normal - but it will take several years. 41%

3. I think the economic impact will last for years. 43%

4. It won’t really affect the way I live. 5%

If there’s a disruptive second wave of the virus, what should the Government’s priority be:

1. Keeping children in school 20%

2. Keeping the economy moving 33%

3. Impose another lockdown to reduce cases 47%


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