In the last couple of days I’ve seen three polls asking about government handling of the Coronavirus. There was a short Yougov poll shared between Sky and the Times on Friday (here), a much longer YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times (here), and an Opinium poll for this morning’s Observer (here).

I should start by saying a little to what extent public opinion matters at all on a topic like this. In judging what the correct approach is, public opinion obviously weighs little if at all compared to the opinion of experts in epidemiology. However polls are not about finding the correct answer, they are about measuring what the public think, whether that is right or wrong, wise or foolish, and on other levels this does matter. We know the government are keen to stress they are following the scientific advice, but would they be blown off that course if there was widespread public dissatisfaction? We don’t know. Perhaps more importantly, many of the actions the government will take in the months ahead will depend upon the public’s willingness to get on board and follow their instructions, so public confidence in the government’s actions really will matter.

On the topline the majority of people approve of the government’s performance:

  • in the YouGov/Times/Sky poll 55% said the government was handling it well, 31% badly.
  • In the YouGov/Sunday Times poll 53% say they have a confidence in the governments handling, 40% do not.
  • In the Opinium/Observer poll 44% approved of the government’s reaction, 30% disapproved.

Overall these are positive findings. However there is a caveat. Asked about the amount the govt have done to respond the YouGov/Sunday Times polls dound 47% think have done too little, compared to 4% too much and 39% about right. Using a differently worded question Opinium found a similar breakdown of opinion (12% over-reacting, 41% under-reacting, 41% about right). In other words, while the public support the governments handling so far, there is some feeling they should now be going further (though given the government have been explicit that they will be introducing more stringent measures in future weeks it’s probably a good sign that there is public appetite for it… it would be far trickier if the public thought the government were over-reacting).

It’s also worth noting that Opinium found that only 36% of people trusted what Boris Johnson personally said on the issue of the coronavirus, a less positive figure than the government as a whole (in contrast 59% of people said they trusted Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Advisor – suggesting the government’s strategy of regularly flanking Johnson with Whitty and Patrick Vallance at press conferences may be a wise one).

Asked about specific changes that could be introduced there seems to be widespread support for a wide variety of measures. The YouGov/Sunday Times poll found majority support for a state of emergency, for travel bans, for food rationing, for cancelling large events. Opinium found similar. Asked about closing schools (perhaps the topic that has been discussed the most over the last week), Opinium found 44% of people in favour, 26% opposed – plurality support, but not the overwhelming backing they found for some other measures.


4,675 Responses to “YouGov and Opinium polls on the government’s handling of the Coronavirus”

1 2 3 4 5 94
  1. Toby Ebert
    “We are about to find out how severely CON cuts to the NHS over the last 10 years are going to impact our increasingly elderly population”

    https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/nhs-budget

    Not much sign of cuts there.
    ———————————–
    Oldnat
    “When the crisis is over, they are often reluctant to give up the powers.”

    Yes, like income tax!

  2. alec,
    having some difficulty posting what with being isolated from the internet. try again.

    save the tests for when needed. right now the goal is controlled spread, and we need the infection rate much higher than now. once it rises we may have to throttle back. we no longer need to test to identify cases to stop a spread. only for safety at work and protecting staff, or if there is a real medical concern

    stats about the disease are deeply suspect because this will be universally true. no one will bother testing people who are getting well by themselves. we don’t know true death rates because we don’t know how many minor cases are unreported.

  3. Scotland does already have it’s own Star Fleet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALiJlE5pj5E

  4. RoI update – looks like they realised the issue of crowded pubs!

    “Pubs asked to close from tonight until 29 March

    All pubs, including hotel bars, have been asked to close from tonight until at least 29 March, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

    The Government has also strongly advised against house parties while the pubs are closed”

    https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/0315/1123356-coronavirus-ireland/

    From what I understand you can still go to a pub in NI and then head back across the border though (although many-most of the countries inside Schengen have reestablished hard borders).

    Who thinks the Irish will listen to the strong advise against house parties with St.Patricks day on Tues? How long before “speak easys” start up?

  5. and yes I’m aware that EU treaties allow for the temporary suspension of Schengen’s open border policy.

  6. @ Danny

    I’m sure various additional measures will kick in at various stages, therefore knowing the numbers testing positive is a key element as to when to make those decisions and “flatten the peak”.

  7. @Danny


    save the tests for when needed. right now the goal is controlled spread, and we need the infection rate much higher than now. once it rises we may have to throttle back. we no longer need to test to identify cases to stop a spread. only for safety at work and protecting staff, or if there is a real medical concern

    stats about the disease are deeply suspect because this will be universally true. no one will bother testing people who are getting well by themselves. we don’t know true death rates because we don’t know how many minor cases are unreported.”.

    With all due respect, you are a first class eej*t.

    You should go for a PhD in idiocy.

  8. UK test data.

    1/ There is clearly a ‘capacity’ issue (although we were supposed to be ramping up to 10,000/day)

    2/ There is a ‘prioritisation’ issue (not just in who to test, but whether the human resources to do so are best employed doing the current type of testing available) – thats a subjective one.

    3/ Currently, FWIU the tests take average of 3days to return a result (ie today’s data is the result of test conducted 3days ago, see also #1)

  9. I am wondering if I and many others might have to buy a Daily Mail to do something with it that I said I never would?

  10. @Jim Jam

    “I am wondering if I and many others might have to buy a Daily Mail to do something with it that I said I never would?”

    i find this a bit cryptic.Do you mean read it or stuff it into some appropriate orifice? I usually follow your example when I can (e.g. in terms of Labour Party voting) so I would like to be clear.

    @Trevs Thanks for sensible points about public buy in, the French getting bored, compliance etc. But could you lay off the Maths? I don’t see that it has anything to do with the points you are making.The scale and unpredictability of this crisis means that important mathematical issues are either so gross that we don’t need modelling (e.g. we don’t have enough ventilators – we don’t need to know the precise extent of the shortfall) or can’t tell us what we need to know (e.g. whether elderly people will be sufficiently compliant that a crisis in the NHS is avoided).

  11. Yes Charles – I have proclaimed along with many others, indeed I did so on here at the time of their disgraceful attack on Ed Mlliband’s dead Father, that I wouldn’t wipe my a**se on the Daily Mail.

    If the toilet rolls shortage get’s worse I may have to!!

  12. @ SHEVII – Vallance and his team should be able to adjust actual data to be more realistic numbers based on knowing the issues around the time lags involved (infection-symptoms-test-test result), %s of folks who probably have (or had) COVID-19 but haven’t been (never were) tested, etc.

    That won’t give them an exact number but they should be able to apply a confidence range around it and it will enable them to project forward and advice on the decisions that need to be made (I would expect they are using a fan chart approach)

    Every country in Europe (and beyond) has been caught out by the rapid spread of the virus within their population – a collective and individual failure on “contain”ment.

  13. Charles

    I thought JimJam was alluding to the toilet paper shortage!

  14. Jim Jam

    That would create another problem, as sewer blockages might cause faecal matter to overflow into the environment.

    Toilet paper has the appropriate proportion of short fibres, to ensure that it rapidly disintegrates in sewers/septic tanks.

    Portions of the Mail would also be spewed out.

  15. @Jim Jam & Patrick Brian Thanks for clarification! Clearly desperate times call for desperate measures!

  16. @ CHARLES – If the critical factor is number of ventilators then don’t you think the maths and modelling is relevant in the decision making process (eg number of people testing +ve x % that will need ventilators, adjusted for time lags/under reporting)

    Maths is 100% a “pure” science

    Virology is a “natural” science reliant on understanding how viruses work (never 100% but the more we know the more reliable the projections are)

    Behavioural aspects are more of a “humanity” issue so much harder to predict (especially when we have lack of precedents on anything comparable) – but not 0%

    So “could you lay off the Maths”, NO.

    Feel free to use the scroll bar feature in future.

  17. This expectancy that supermarkets can suddenly take on delivering to elderly people self-isolating, is a very big ask on them when there aren`t any supermarkets within many miles in some areas.

    For example there are none between Tain and Wick over a road distance of 70 miles.

    I don`t think that the small grocers in Dornoch opposite the cathedral will be equipped to deliver to the numerous scattered crofts in the hinterland to the west.

    I do hope that when our governments issue edicts they take into account rural communities with small total populations.

    I have just been reading in Saturday`s paper “Your Coronavirus Problems Answered”.

    Question 1. If I am self-isolating, can I go out for a walk – NO, stay in the house, preferably in one room.

    This advice was not even nuanced as “YES, provided you don`t go along crowded pavements or join a walking group”. The physical reasons for avoiding close contacts ought to be being put over, not draconian rules designed for urban populations.

  18. @ TW

    “%s of folks who probably have (or had) COVID-19 but haven’t been (never were) tested”

    Where’s that guestimate coming from? I know places like South Korea have been fairly rigorous so maybe take something from their results but seems like an awful lot of guesses in that unless we do some random tests (which we aren’t doing).

  19. It would be ironic if this crisis led to an increase in newspaper circulation, especially the Daily Mail.

  20. UK Government ministers unhappy with its covid 19 communications strategy and demanding changes:

    https://twitter.com/alexwickham/status/1239212209189904386?s=19

  21. @DAVWEL
    Spain has gone for don’t leave the house at all. France is going for social distancing, but you can go out. The French government would rather be following the British line and I have a feeling that France would not have entered the business closure stage if the gilet jaune lot had not behaved so stupidly in Paris. France is an exceptionally difficult nation to lead at times.

  22. Vautrin Said it First
    @ Oldnat

    “We made them an offer which they can’t refuse. :-)”

    Thanks. I didn’t know about the other sites. The development company is making the usual claims about local employment etc.

    I was surprised to find in Balzac’s Old Goriot the phrase “I am making you an offer you shouldn’t refuse” In another translation it’s ” . . . you can’t refuse”. The speaker is Vautrin: one of Balzac’s best chacters: “seductive, enigmatic and complex, not easily classified, not even as a villain.”

    Never heard of the Sit Com. As I said before nothing nicer than leaving Manchester at 9.00am & getting to Barra, or Islay or the far North/Northwest etc by lunchtime in hired car. Yeh not v right-on.

    @ Stageek

    “The DM comments section is that way >>>” Dunno what that means. Anyway Luca Brasi, what about the space port?

    @ Carfrew.

    “!!!” relax brother. The space port. Thought this would be yr cup of tea.

  23. If the toilet rolls shortage get’s worse I may have to!!

    I finally did an inventory of hosuehold stocks. 11 rolls, plus two in operation. I always buy loads when Tesco deliveries have that at half price. Soon they will be selling around ’em Manchester pubs instead of fags.

  24. Social distancing.

    In national comparitive terms, is this something we should traditionally expect the English to be rather good at?

  25. I’m told (with what veracity, I know not) that Virgin Atlantic is 49% owned by US Delta airlines and 31% owned by Dutch KLM / Air France. Just 20% is owned by Richard Branson who lives in a Caribbean tax haven.

    A request to the UK Government for a bailout seems rather cheeky?

  26. @Peteb
    The nhs budget in cash terms rose 350% between 1997 and 2007
    Since 2008 it’s risen 30%

  27. “P0rnhub makes its premium content free for everyone on coronavirus lockdown in Italy”

    If Hancock is still planning compulsory lockdown for English pensioners, has he negotiated a similar benefit there? Will it be named after him?

  28. The US federal government announce the roll out of mass testing.

    The WHO say mass testing is essential.

    Everyone is doing mass testing. Except the UK, who are abandoning mass testing.

    Former director of the WHO Antony Costello-

    “The key principles from WHO are intensive surveillance. You test the population like crazy, find out where the cases are, immediately quarantine them and do contact tracing and get them out of the community. This deals with family clusters. That’s the key bedrock of getting this under control.

    “For me and the WHO people I have spoken to, this [stopping testing outside hospitals] is absolutely the wrong policy. It would mean it just lets rip,…..The basic public health approach is playing second fiddle to mathematical modelling,”

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s current director general

    “You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of Covid transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.”

    Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at The University of Edinburgh – the reasons for continuing to test.

    “1 People can alter behaviour based on whether they have Covid. 2 Break chains of transmission. 3 Local hospitals can plan for how many patients will need care. 4 To know where cases are emerging (hotspots). 5 How do we know how large problem is?”

    Seems pretty clear that the weight of scientific opinion is for mass testing, and against the UK’s policy of restricted testing.

    There may be good reasons why we have made this decision. It could be that our public health capacity is so shot that we can’t justify testing over treatment, and will have to accept the risk that this brings. It could be for the more cynical reason that the UK government wishes to hide the true extent of infection. Whatever the reason, it’s time to put to bed the notion that the UK policy is being led by science.

    The scientists say otherwise.

  29. @Hireton – “UK Government ministers unhappy with its covid 19 communications strategy and demanding changes:…”

    Not a surprise. I’ve been extremely surprised with the lack of public information adverts and videos. The BBC has done well with a regular repeated video about how to wash hands, but apart from that, I’ve not seen anything from HMG. I don’t do social media, so I may have missed a lot of online advertising, but I’ve not seen a peep on the TV from HMG.

    The rest has just been a car crash. It’s like they are still fighting the election, aiming to get positive approval from what they say, rather than actually delivering anything. The latest has been this nonsense about UK manufacturers stepping up and making ventilators, like they made Spitfires in WW2. Lord Bamford of JCB said this was at least two months away, didn’t know if they could source components, and wasn’t sure it could be done at all.

    To build confidence you need to deliver something, then brief it.

    I also recall the briefings from a week ago about how the government were talking to food retailers to ensure we could all get home deliveries. The retailers said there had been no such discussions, and now you can’t book a slot at all.

    I’m realistic enough to accept that this is a collossal crisis, and any government is going to struggle, but a pattern of total comms failure and confusion has emerged here, and this could get very serious if they don’t get a grip on the strategy.

  30. Moving back to the home front, I’ve just done stock check. We have 18 toilet rolls in the house, of which three are in use. We haven’t purchased any for three weeks.

    As standby we have several smoothly soft liberal copies of the ‘i’, as I couldn’t be doing with a hard right Telegraph or hard left Mirror. Too uncomferable.

  31. @Myself – “There may be good reasons why we have made this decision. It could be that our public health capacity is so shot that we can’t justify testing over treatment, and will have to accept the risk that this brings.”

    Seems that this is correct. According to the Grunge, a secret PHE document says that

    “The health service cannot cope with the sheer number of people with symptoms who need to be tested because laboratories are “under significant demand pressures”.

    “Testing services are under such strain that even NHS staff will not be swabbed, despite their key role and the risk of them passing the virus on to patients.”

    Flying in the dark can be fun I’m told.

  32. Those in England may want to note the provisions of The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/129/contents/made

    which can be implemented by the UK Government.

  33. Oldnat!

    “ If Hancock is still planning compulsory lockdown for English pensioners, has he negotiated a similar benefit there? Will it be named after him?”

    First Toilet paper … then Tissues!!!!

    Peter.

  34. This is the facebook post

    Natalie Amaryllis Dowd Earnshaw This is so tragic. My heart goes out to his family friends and colleagues. Are they saying that the virus caused the heart attack? As it it states no pre existing health conditions or is it no known pre existing health conditions? I have seen other posts about is being lied to about ages of people dying yet this says he is the youngest? Sorry to ask so many questions on a post about a tragic loss of life ?
    10
    Hide or report this
    Like
    · Reply · 2h
    Lea Roberts
    Lea Roberts Natalie Amaryllis Dowd Earnshaw I have a friend who is Italian she watches the Italian news and tells me that it is not just elderly people and those with existing medical conditions dying in Italy. She is very worried that our Government aren’t taking it seriously and has put herself and her family into isolation.

  35. NEW: UK Government to hold daily press conferences on Coronavirus from tomorrow

    Will be hosted by PM & senior ministers, supported by experts including Chief Medical Officer

    PM to chair Cobra on Monday to discuss sheltering elderly, household isolation and mass gatherings (BBC)

    Unfortunately, while they will cover “whole UK” matters, almost certainly, England only ones will be mixed in with those, thus increasing confusion outwith England.

  36. @Alec

    Everyone is doing mass testing? By country stats on testing suggests not and that the UK is fairly high up the tests undertaken rankings.

  37. Steve
    “The nhs budget in cash terms rose 350% between 1997 and 2007
    Since 2008 it’s risen 30%”

    And that’s your definition of a cut? A slower increase? It’s a novel use of language, I’ll give you that.
    ——————————–
    Pete
    I read your link. See answer above.

  38. @ Oldnat
    “If Hancock is still planning compulsory lockdown for English pensioners, has he negotiated a similar benefit there? Will it be named after him?”

    He will be given a peerage & named:

    Master Of the Rolls.

  39. Why A (Toilet) Duck (Chico Marx)

    “Why toilet paper? It doesn’t seem logical, does it? Because it’s not gonna stop you from getting infected,” said Dr Steven Taylor, author of the 2009 book ‘The Psychology of Pandemics’.

    “One thing that happens during pandemics, when people are threatened with infection, is that their sensitivity to disgust increases. Disgust is an alarm mechanism that warns you to avoid contamination. So there is a very tight connection between fear of getting infected and disgust. And what better tool for eliminating disgusting material than toilet paper. This is how it became a conditioned symbol of safety,”

  40. Robbie Alive

    When my Mum died in 1979, and we were clearing her house, we found cupboards stacked high with toilet rolls.

    My (doctor) brother said it was very common for the elderly to be obsessed with defecation, so it wasn’t surprising.

  41. Pete b
    If expenditure on the nhs had continued at the rate between 1997 and 2008 the NHS would have approximately 70% more funding available now than it does.
    As my wife and I have between us spent over seven decades in the emergency services we recognise from the sharp end the difference between sufficient and insufficient resources.
    Our public health services are chronically underfunded to deal with a national emergency of a scale far smaller than that facing us.

  42. PETE B yes, your answer was stUpid.

  43. Alec,
    ““You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of Covid transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.””

    The Uk is not trying to stop the disease, it wants a managed spread as fast as the NHS can handle the cases. Which does not mean manage them within normal resources, but in emergency takeover of hospitals. They need this to start off as fast as possible to get it over with a fast as possible. Right now everything is consistent with ramping up cases.

    you dont need and dont want to find everyone with the disease, because you want it to spread. All you need is some random sampling to assess how fast it is spreading.

    But the scale of this already means Brexit needs to be delayed at least 1 year. It isnt possible to end it fast enough for brexit to proceed. So if they are pushing it to get brexit done, I dont believe it will work.

    “The latest has been this nonsense about UK manufacturers stepping up and making ventilators”

    Yes. Not very practical over a few months. Take longer than that to organise the parts coming from China.

    I saw a news clip where people were DNA tesing virus samples to see if it was corona. Talked about 3 hours. But it also said something about doing tests in batches, so the delay might still have been while they got samples prepared. However, I assume the real delay now will be that the capacity doesnt exist, so tests will by have to wait their turn.

    This was entirely different to one off test kits which it seems have been developed. But probably are not available.

  44. @ Alec

    On government communication, Peston came in for a lot of stick (only marginally fair on him) for quoting the unnamed “government source” on a major story that the plan was to isolate everyone over 70 for 4 months within a few weeks. This is clearly not a leak but a designed strategy.

    Quite rightly people were saying this is an appalling way to communicate vital information and smacks to me of a government method of floating an idea to see how this goes down with the general public while leaving them options to tweak the proposal.

    While Peston, as a journalist, probably has little option but to report something like this, the marginally fair criticism is that he is playing the government’s game in this.

    A similar criticism on communication applies to the “herd immunity” policy where it is entirely unclear whether this is policy, how that policy is going to work in practice and over what period of time. Again, an entirely inappropriate medium of a Sky interview.

    There may be method behind the madness to leak these things gradually so as flatten the curve of the panic these things can generate but the accusation of “playing politics” that @ Colin has leveled at posters on this forum, seems to be part of this communications strategy.

  45. No time to talk about trade deals.

    Extend the transition now, and focus on saving people’s lives.

  46. I think people will be interested in this. It gives reasons for thinking the UK governments approach is seriously flawed.

    https://twitter.com/DanielFalush/status/1239049733974433798

    @Trevors OK by all means continue with your Maths. Most people, however, make a distinction between pure Maths and applied.. Applied Maths depends crucially on the accuracy of the data and appropriateness of the models. This is what is at issue here. So could you stop talking about the Platonic beauty of the Maths and say a little more about the messiness of what’s involved?

  47. Other governments have used a similar ‘leak’ strategy to test out things like reaction to potential Budget proposals etc, but this tactic seems somehow totally inappropriate for a crisis like this one.

    I’ve always thought it was a bit of a false tactic, in that, generally, the public reaction is driven by the way the media treat the particular issue. So, why not just ask the relevant editors for their reaction and base policy on that. It would save a lot of time and potential aggro.

    There again, if newspaper editors are to be the arbiters on government policy, what’s the point of electing people to supposedly run the country?

  48. JAMESB

    @”Everyone is doing mass testing? By country stats on testing suggests not .”

    I agree

    This from a Politico article dated March 12th-“How Europe is responding to the coronavirus pandemic”

    “Number of tests done :-
    Italy-86011
    France-not available
    Spain-Government not disclosing data.
    Germany-not available
    Denmark-3038
    Netherlands-Not available
    Sweden -Unknown
    UK_29764 **
    Belgium-over 4000
    Austria-not available
    Greece- more than 2180
    Czech-11021
    Portugal-not available
    Finland-900
    Slovenia-not available
    Romania-not available
    Ireland-1784
    Poland-2024
    Luxembourg-400
    Croatia-not available
    Estonia-350
    Hungary -730
    Latvia-291
    Slovakia-853
    Bulgaria-not available
    Malta-not available
    Cyprus-Not available
    Lithuania-309

    ** 40279 at 15 March.

1 2 3 4 5 94