Daily Express is wrong to say most people would ignore a Christmas lockdown

21 December 2021
What was claimed

Over half of Britons would ignore Christmas Covid rules.

Our verdict

There is no good evidence for this. It comes from a poll on the Express website, which does not represent the views of British people as a whole.

Scientists demand tighter Covid rules… but poll shows majority would ignore them.

Boris under pressure as poll finds over half of Britons would IGNORE Christmas Covid rules

The front page of the Daily Express reported that a poll shows the “majority” of people would ignore any emergency lockdown rules this Christmas. An article on the paper’s website also said that a poll shows “over half of Britons” would ignore them.

In fact, this figure comes from a survey on the Express website, so it only tells us about the opinions of the people who responded to that survey—not the country as a whole.

The Express seems to acknowledge this elsewhere in its articles by describing the survey as “a poll of 12,694 Express readers” and “a poll of 14,000 Daily Express readers”. (We don’t know why the numbers are different online and in print.)

After we contacted the Express during the research for this article, the word “Britons” was replaced with “readers” in the headline online.

The survey was posted on 19 December. Looking back at the page with the Internet Archive, it appears to have asked: “Would you follow or ignore emergency lockdown rules this Christmas?” It gave respondents three possible answers: “Follow”, “Ignore” and “Depends what the rules are”.

According to the Express, 52% of respondents said they would ignore the rules, 31% said they would follow them, and 17% said it would depend on which rules were put in place.

This doesn’t mean anything about the views of British people, however, because those who came across the survey and decided to respond to it may well not be typical of the UK population.  The Express has confirmed to us that these numbers were not weighted to make them more representative.

We’ve not been able to find an authoritative poll showing how the public expect they would respond to a Christmas lockdown.

An Ipsos MORI poll conducted between 16 and 18 December found that 44% of British people thought that the current Covid restrictions did not go far enough.

A poll for the Times conducted on 14 and 15 December found that 37% of people in Great Britain also did not think the government had imposed enough restrictions. However, a majority opposed each of the new restrictions suggested to them, such as a ban on meeting other households indoors at Christmas. 

In research from 9 to10 December, YouGov found that most people in England were wearing masks in shops, and that the proportion had risen substantially since this was made a rule in England.

YouGov polling from 30 November to 1 December also found that the English public was opposed to more restrictions such as closing pubs and restaurants, but in favour of others like closing nightclubs. The Omicron outbreak was much smaller at the time.

We took a stand for good information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted the Daily Express to request a correction regarding this claim.

They added a footnote correction to the online article and amended their Facebook post.

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