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Study finds almost all north London respondents broke social distancing rules during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 10:49 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:20 16 September 2020

Dr Stephen Hills, director of the health economics research group at London Met. Picture: Submitted by London Met

Dr Stephen Hills, director of the health economics research group at London Met. Picture: Submitted by London Met

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A study has found almost all north London respondents broke social distancing rules at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

Director of the centre for primary health and social care at London Met, Dr Yolanda Eraso. Picture: Submitted by London MetDirector of the centre for primary health and social care at London Met, Dr Yolanda Eraso. Picture: Submitted by London Met

Researchers at London Metropolitan University asked people from Islington, Haringey, Camden, Hackney, Barnet and Enfield - the largest percentage of whom were from Islington (30.7pc) - in an online questionnaire for a report called Limiting the Spread of Covid-19 in North London Communities.

They found 92.8 per cent of the 681 participants did not adhere to all social distancing rules during lockdown, and nearly half (48.6pc) of acted deliberately.

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These include keeping two metres away from other people, staying at home and only socialising within household units.

Over a two-week period, on average, the respondents accidentally came too close to others 10.77 times and purposefully defied the rules 2.59 times.

The study also found people who voted for the Conservatives at the last election were 117pc more likely to intentionally flout the regulations compared to those who did not.

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Additionally, both people whose highest qualifications are GCSEs and academics with a PhD are more likely to bend the rules than people who finished education at a different stage.

The researchers also pointed out deliberate violations spiked by 63pc when lockdown was initially eased between May 13 and June 1.

Director of the centre for primary health and social care at London Met, Dr Yolanda Eraso, said: “Nearly half of the individuals in our sample deliberately broke the rules by meeting with others from outside their households or going out for unpermitted reasons.

“Such behaviours seem to indicate that acting for the common or the social good have dwindled in favour of a greater sense of self-interest.”

She called for clearer public health messages and urged everyone to maintain a “consistent sense of collective responsibility”.

Dr Stephen Hills, director of the health economics research group at London Met, added the study highlighted how “challenging it has been for people to maintain a distance of two metres from those they don’t live with,” even for permitted reasons.

The study is currently in its second phase of qualitative interviews.


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