Half of Times readers would accept further lockdowns, survey suggests

Quiet streets during the Coronavirus lockdown in Dereham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dereham pictured during lockdown in April 2020 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Half of people in the Dereham, Fakenham and Wells area would accept further coronavirus lockdowns if case rates continue to rise, according to a survey by this newspaper. 

In a survey conducted by the Dereham Times and Fakenham and Wells Times, 49.7pc of respondents said they would not dispute going into lockdown if necessary.

Around one in five (20.6pc) said the country should only be shut down in "extreme circumstances", and 29.7pc thought it should not happen again. 

One person who answered said the nation should "get on with life and live with it [Covid]", while another called lockdowns a "total disaster" for education, mental health and businesses. 

Back in September, the government unveiled its autumn and winter Covid plan, which focused on increased testing and the rollout of booster jabs.

Quiet streets during the Coronavirus lockdown in Fakenham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Fakenham pictured during lockdown in April 2020 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

But, last month, the spiralling spread of the Omicron variant meant moving to Plan B, resulting in people having to wear face masks indoors, work from home "if they can" and show vaccine passports to get into nightclubs. 

Many expected tougher restrictions to be introduced after Christmas, but Boris Johnson later confirmed the rules would stay the same due to the new strain being "milder".

And, a fortnight ago, UEA professor Paul Hunter predicted life could be back to normal after Easter

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. Photo: Bill Smith

UEA professor Paul Hunter - Credit: Archant © 2013

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "We're going to have to let people who are [Covid] positive go about their normal lives as they would do with any other cold. 

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"Once we're past Easter, perhaps, then maybe we should start to look at scaling back depending on, of course, what the disease is at that time."

Prof Hunter had previously asserted the booster uptake would be crucial in combatting Omicron, and our survey results show most readers have answered the call.

Eight out of 10 have received three jabs (two vaccines and one booster), while 11pc have had two. 

However, 8.4pc have been for no jabs at all.

One person said: "I have Covid at the time of filling in this survey, but it is like a mild flu which I firmly believe is because I am fully vaccinated.

The new covid vaccine centre opens in Harleston.
Susan Kirkham receives her first dose

A Covid vaccine being administered at a large-scale centre - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"So, I would recommend that every person gets vaccinated."

Another pointed to there being a high proportion of coronavirus patients in hospital who are unvaccinated. 

Looking ahead, 49pc of those who completed our questionnaire would be happy to get further shots for as long as it is advised.

The new covid vaccine centre opens in Harleston.

The entrance to a large-scale vaccination centre - Credit: Sonya Duncan

An additional 28.4pc agreed, but suggested the need for a long-term alternative, while 15pc said they would not get any more boosters. 

When it comes to whether people have actually had Covid-19, just 22.4pc of our respondents said they had tested positive since the pandemic began. 

Of those, around half said they experienced moderate symptoms, similar to a fever or flu, while less than a quarter were "seriously" unwell. 

Quiet streets at Wells Next the Sea on Good Friday as people seem to have been dissuaded from travel

Wells pictured during lockdown in April 2020 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Just under 72pc said they had not yet contracted the illness at all.

On the subject of face coverings, 89.1pc claimed they always wear a mask when required to do so. Around 7pc admitted they choose not to and 3.8pc revealed they had a medical exemption. 

One individual called wearing a mask "a minor inconvenience for a great benefit".

They added: "I am happy to continue to wear a mask for as long as it helps to protect others. I just wish everyone felt the same way."

But another said they "hate" wearing them and argued it should be a matter of personal choice. 

Masks were also labelled "a waste of time as no-one wears them properly" by one respondent.

People out and about in Gentleman's Walk as face masks are to become compulsory on public transport

Just under 90pc of people who answered our survey say they always wear a face mask when required - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Just over two-thirds (68pc) of respondents said they test for Covid at least once a week, although that means 32pc are not testing at all.

Finally, in response to a question asking the extent to which their lives have been disrupted by the virus, 18pc said it had "totally" changed and another 43pc said it had changed "a lot". 

About 13pc claimed their lives had not been disturbed much at all.

A pair of care home workers who filled out the survey described the impact on their jobs as "huge", and one person said they had experienced some "seriously dark times". 

A mother lamented that her new-born babies had not been able to socialise and that her own mum was suffering with long Covid. 

One person revealed they had "developed severe anxiety", and another said they "don't think life will ever be the same again".

The new normal, how life is now after Covid-19 restrictions have been eased. The hand sanitising sta

A customer sanitising their hands before they go into a cafe during the pandemic - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

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