An overwhelming majority of Britons surveyed in a snap poll support the government further restricting their freedoms and those of their neighbours, as the possibility of a nightly curfew to prevent merry-making grows.
A combined 69 per cent of Britons asked in a YouGov poll on Tuesday said they supported a "9 pm curfew on pubs and bars to help reduce COVID-19 cases", of which 38 per cent said they felt very strongly in support of the idea. Just 22 per cent opposed the idea, with 11 per cent saying they were strongly against the idea.
While support for the strict clampdown is relatively flat across the regions, political parties, and income levels, there is some differentiation. Support for a hard lockdown is much higher, and more impassioned, with older age groups than young. And women are more likely to be in favour than men to support pubs and clubs being closed early, with men also being slightly more likely to strongly oppose the policy.
The research follows another recent poll on Monday's fresh restrictions on gatherings - the so-called ‘rule of six' - where the government banned even small gatherings in public places. Again, Britons overwhelmingly backed the state giving them strict rules on how to live, with 77 per cent in favour.
These results may not surprise, perhaps, given the results of an international survey on attitudes to coronavirus published in May which found Britons were more scared of the virus than any other country in the study. A Telegraphreport of the time highlighted other findings of the study, including that people who naturally had "individualistic" world outlooks were less frightened, as were men compared to women.
Nevertheless, Britain afraid is quite a development from how the government itself perceived the reaction of the nation at the very start of the pandemic. In a now-notorious passage in an official government briefing document on "increasing adherence to social distancing measures" published in March, it was said that:
A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened; it could be that they are reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group... The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.
Those Britons now cowed into believing the government enforcing a nationwide curfew is necessary may yet get what they want. A Wednesday report in the Metro freesheet newspaper cites government sources who claimed a curfew - where businesses are forced to close early and going outside at all after 10 pm could be banned - is just two weeks away.
The increasingly draconian moves from the government are in response to a recent rise in the number of new cases, although this has not been accompanied by a significant increase in deaths or hospitalisations, the rate of which has been comparatively low for weeks. Perhaps heading off the possibility of criticism on the proportionality of the response compared to the low death rate, an unnamed member of the government cited by the paper said: "There is no possibility of us waiting for the death rate to rise before we act."