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Less than half of adults always social distancing when meeting others – ONS

Of the 1,150 people who reported socialising, 47% said they had always maintained social distancing.

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Social distancing signs (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Social distancing signs (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Social distancing signs (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Less than half of adults spending time with family and friends are fully respecting social distancing measures when they meet up, a survey suggests.

Almost three-quarters of adults polled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said they had socialised with others during the last seven days, with 50% welcoming family or friends into their homes.

Of the 1,150 people who reported socialising, 47% said they had always maintained social distancing, with this proportion rising to 70% of those aged 70 and over.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Three in 10 (31%) said they often followed the measures, 13% said they sometimes did, while 8% said they rarely or never followed social distancing.

More than a quarter (26%) said they had met up with between five to 10 people, while 6% said the group was larger than 10.

It comes as people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire were banned from meeting up with each other in their homes or gardens.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules, announced late on Thursday night.

The ONS analysed responses from 1,564 people in Britain between July 22 and 26 about their activities over the past week as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

It also found that 63% of respondents strongly support targeted lockdown measures to stop the rise of coronavirus in local areas, while a quarter said they tend to support this.

And 57% of respondents support the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops and supermarkets.

People in Scotland and the over 70s were most likely to strongly support the measure.

More than eight in 10 adults who left their homes in the seven days prior to the survey said they had worn a face covering, up from 71% the previous week.

Of those who had been shopping this week, over three-quarters (76%) said they had worn a face covering.

At the time of the survey it was mandatory to wear face coverings while shopping in Scotland, while this was introduced in England on July 24 in the middle of the survey period.

Over 9 in 10 adults in Scotland (97%) had worn face coverings when shopping in the last seven days, compared with 74% in England and 58% in Wales, where it is not mandatory.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Throughout this pandemic we have seen high levels of compliance with the public health measures and we continue to provide advice and guidance on the steps everybody should take to stay safe.

“It is absolutely imperative that people continue to follow social distancing advice to keep themselves, their families and communities safe, and stop the spread of the virus.”

PA