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Only 10% of people plan to return to living exactly as they did before Covid-19

Only one in 10 people plan to return to living exactly how they did before Covid-19 when the pandemic eventually ends, researchers have found.

Just half of people in the ongoing social study by University College London (UCL) said they were more likely to revert back to life pre-coronavirus. 

The rest sat on a spectrum of how much they wanted to adjust, with two per cent of people saying they will ‘entirely’ change how they live.  

Supporting local businesses, saving more money and spending more time working from home were among the changes people wanted to make. 

But there was a lack of enthusiasm for travelling on public transport and holidaying abroad in a post-Covid world.  

People who lived alone, those on lower household incomes and those without children are the least likely to want to change their lifestyle.  

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt said: ‘Our study shows that during lockdown many peoples’ priorities have changed, with a substantial number of people expressing a desire to change parts of their life and routine once the pandemic is over.

‘This is likely down to the upheaval of lockdown breaking many habits and leading to people reassessing what they feel is important or worthwhile, be that spending time with their family, supporting their community, or saving money, to name some of the more popular responses.’  

The study by UCL was launched in the week before lockdown began to capture how adults are feeling about the impact of Covid-19 on their own lives.

More than 70,000 people have participated in the study, answering questions on their mental health and wellbeing and adherence to government guidance.  

Respondents have been asked whether they feel they will change the way they live their lives once the pandemic is over compared to their lives before Covid-19.

They rated their feelings on a scale from one to seven, with seven being: ‘I will entirely change the way I lived compared to before Covid-19’.

Findings published today reveal that a fifth (22 per cent) of respondents felt they were more likely to change their lifestyle after Covid-19.

This rose to around a quarter for those aged 30-59 (25 per cent) and those with a diagnosed mental illness (26 per cent).

Around 16 per cent of people aged over 60 said they would return to living exactly as they had before, more than double (7 per cent) compared to the population below that age. 

One factor that people were most likely to change was increasing their support for local businesses (40 per cent), with around a third of people also saying they would save more money (33 per cent), exercise more (35 per cent) or make more use of online shopping (33 per cent).

A quarter of adults planned to work from home more, which increased to 29 per cent for 18-29 year-olds and 32 per cent for those aged between 30-59.

It comes after a study found this week that British workers are the most reluctant in Europe to return because of fears of a second wave of coronavirus.

It’s feared that with less people going into work, shops in town centres and business districts will be left without customers for months to come. 

UCL researchers also found 26 per cent of people across all age groups wanted to spend more time with family outside of their homes or holiday more in the UK. 

Just under a fifth (18 per cent) of people aged 18-29 expressed a desire to find a new romantic relationship once the pandemic is over. 

People with a diagnosed mental illness were more likely to report that they would make changes to their lives after Covid-19.

Graphs show that those least likely to report lifestyle changes were those who lived alone, are on lower household incomes, and are without children.

Cheryl Lloyd, education programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, which is funding the study, said the findings raised important questions about how feasible it is for people on lower incomes to make lifestyle changes.

They were ‘more likely to be in precarious employment and have less disposable income’, which could affect whether they could change their circumstances.

Ms Lloyd said: ‘To be effective, policies should be targeted, and designed in consultation with at-risk groups, to ensure they do not exacerbate existing health and social inequalities.’

The study team has received support from research charity Wellcome to launch an international network of studies called Covid-Minds, which will see dozens of scientists and clinicians collate and compare results from mental health studies from around the world.

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