With lockdown restrictions set to ease in the coming months, a new poll has suggested Britons are split on whether the pandemic has made the UK a more divided country.
According to a poll of 2,442 people aged 16 and over by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Ipsos Mori, 38% think the coronavirus pandemic has deepened divisions, while 35% believe it has brought people closer together.
Arguments about whether lockdowns and use of vaccines should be enforced, as well over issues like vaccine passports and face mask use, have been widespread on social media and in households over the past year.
Much like Brexit before it, Britons have developed deeply held views about the pandemic that may account for a split on how much we feel it has divided us as a nation.
Elsewhere, the results of the study also suggest the country has got so used to lockdown restrictions that more than half of people will miss some aspect of them when they start to ease.
Some 54% said they will miss certain aspects of lockdown, such as more family time, quieter roads and staying at home.
The research, part of a wider study with BBC News, also found that 32% of people said the past year has been similar to or better than average for them personally.
And 19% said the last year has been better than they expected it to be when the first lockdown was introduced, while 21% said their finances have improved.
Younger people (aged 16-35) were twice as likely as older adults to say their year had been better than expected.
Half (49%) of the public said the last year has been worse than expected, with women and over-65s more likely to feel this way.
The research also found that 28% of people feel closer to their immediate family, 19% feel closer to their neighbours and 31% feel less close to their friends.
Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “There is no doubt that the public would rather the pandemic hadn’t happened at all – but that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad for everyone, or that people see it deeply affecting their future.”
He added: “Of course, many have been severely negatively affected, and the findings reinforce a key theme of the pandemic, that while the measures to control the virus have applied to everyone, their impact depends hugely on your own circumstances.”
Watch: How England will leave lockdown