A report out this morning from the Office of National Statistics found that compliance to Covid regulations amongst young people was low with many showing lower levels of concern over the risks of catching coronavirus and did not comply with social mixing guidance.
The report found that overall compliance was high and many participants in the study had a good awareness of the “Hands, Face, Space” government guidance (to wash and sanitise hands, wear a mask and keep a two metre distance from others) and of how the coronavirus spreads.
Some participants did not comply with social mixing guidance and these participants often did not understand the rationale behind not meeting people from other households indoors.
Other participants from the groups interviewed, particularly participants from the young people group, mentioned a concern that the lack of socialising had a negative impact on their mental well-being.
Fear of the coronavirus and passing it on to others, especially the vulnerable, motivated many participants across all groups to comply with the guidance.
Some participants were demotivated from following the guidance by seeing others, including their peers and public figures, not complying with the guidance.
A few participants did not trust the seriousness of the coronavirus or questioned the effectiveness of the COVID-19 guidance, particularly those from ethnic minority groups or those on low income.
Many students and young people showed lower levels of concern for the guidance when among their peers, because they perceived that they were unlikely to either catch COVID-19 or be seriously affected by it if they did catch it because of their age.
Many students felt they were “missing out” on the university experience. They felt they were missing social experiences by not being able to go out to parties or clubs.
Many reported that wider life on or around student areas made compliance much more difficult because of the behaviours of others and the temptations to be more social in a university environment. Few mentioned putting any steps in place to safely manage the transition from campus to family home,
In a university environment, many students did not perceive COVID-19 to be much of a threat. Some students knew people who had had COVID-19 but had not been seriously affected by it. They therefore concluded that they would recover easily if they caught it, so saw no harm in attending parties or mixing in large groups.
A few participants who were very optimistic that the vaccines would bring an end to the pandemic, felt the vaccines made them more likely to comply, as they saw the current lockdown restrictions as “the last stretch”.