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Young men most likely to ignore coronavirus lockdown rules, claims Ulster University survey


People drinking on the street close to the Westlands Road in north Belfast

People drinking on the street close to the Westlands Road in north Belfast

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

PSNI officers patrol in Helens Bay, Co Down

PSNI officers patrol in Helens Bay, Co Down

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E


People drinking on the street close to the Westlands Road in north Belfast

More than half of men aged 19 to 24 have broken the UK's lockdown rules by meeting up with their friends, a study co-written by psychologists from Ulster University has found.

Working with University of Sheffield researchers, they said this group was more likely to think they were not at risk of catching Covid-19 or spreading it to others, and that following the government's guidelines was not worthwhile.

The psychologists - who questioned a representative group of 2,000 13 to 24-year-olds - say one in five adolescent men aged between 19-21 said they had been sent on their way, arrested, fined or taken home by police for breaking the rules, compared to just one in 10 women of the same age.

It comes as First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill expressed concern at the flaunting of coronavirus regulations in Belfast.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

The politicians, who come from small rural communities in counties Fermanagh and Tyrone respectively where social distancing is more strictly adhered to, have regularly observed blatant breaches of social distancing restrictions when travelling to and from Stormont.

Executive sources have warned that this could lead to a slowing of the pace in lifting the lockdown throughout Northern Ireland.

"Both ministers were shocked by what they witnessed in Belfast in the past week, where people were out and about, mixing together, like it was a normal day.

"There was little social distancing taking place, and this hit home to Arlene and Michelle as they are from small rural communities where folk have been following the rules rigidly," a source told the Sunday Life.

Numerous street parties took place across Belfast on Friday to celebrate VE Day at which the current guidelines were openly ignored.

Adults from different households were observed eating and drinking together, while their children were playing on bouncy castles.

Photographs taken on Saturday also showed large groups together in the city enjoying the sunshine.

Meanwhile, dozens of cars were seen lining the hard shoulder for half a mile along the entrance to Gosford Forest Park in Co Armagh.

Eyewitnesses said people were deliberately ignoring the rules with several cars arriving at the same time and groups of walkers going in together.

The PSNI has repeatedly said that people should not drive to parks for exercise.

The Stormont Executive is due to publish its roadmap this week outlining how Northern Ireland will emerge from the current Covid-19 enforced restrictions.

Belfast Telegraph

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