More adults now believe that life might not go back to pre-pandemic normality compared to surveys conducted in October and in the summer.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released new figures showing that the public’s attitude towards Covid has become increasingly downbeat since around March.
The general mood seems to have reached an all-time low after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Omicron was a “variant of concern” at the end of November.
According to ONS’ findings in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, 16% of adults surveyed between November 18 and November 28 think life will never return to normal.
There’s been a slight dip in the number of people who believe it will take just more than a year to get back to normality as well – now a third of respondents believe this, compared to 36% previously.
An optimistic 4% of respondents claim getting back to normal life is just four to six months away.
These results came in shortly before the new social distancing measures were put in place on Tuesday.
How does this compare to earlier in the pandemic?
Only eight in nine people thought everyday life would go back to pre-pandemic lives just a month ago – during the summer, this statistic was even higher with nine in 10 respondents feeling normality would soon return.
Although the second wave of Covid was at its peak in January 2021, people were more optimistic that life would be able to revert to normal even then.
Just a small fraction – only 3% – of adults said at the time that life would never be the same again at that time, when the UK was in its third lockdown.
Is it realistic to say life will not go back to normal?
The government appears to be expecting similar booster campaigns to be necessary against other Covid mutations in the future, as Downing Street has ordered millions of extra vaccine doses for 2022 and 2023.
Speaking on BBC Question Time, the vaccines minister Maggie Throup acknowledged that annual vaccinations are likely to be needed and “it would be wrong of us not to be prepared”.
However, the health secretary Sajid Javid has signalled that if the Omicron variant is only as transmissible as the Delta variant – rather than more infectious – he intends to lift all of the current social restrictions.
The government has also encouraged people to continue with their social plans this year, as long as everyone takes “cautious” measures.