June 2020

Emotional Response to Lifting Lockdown

The Emotions of Lifting Lockdown

On 23 March 2020 the UK was placed into lockdown to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since this date, focus has shifted to when and how the lockdown should be lifted. The debate has been emotionally charged, with fears for health balanced against the hardships caused by disruption to normal life.

To better understand changes in public emotion towards easing the lockdown and the issues driving people's perceptions, we have analysed how the debate has played out in recent weeks in our Emotions of Lifting Lockdown report.

This has been carried out using Reputation Tracker, a piece of software that tracks emotion and sentiment through analysis of visible digital content and conversation. It includes all visible online content - including media, social media, forums and other online sources - weighted by its impact and influence. It has tracked all digital content and conversation in the public domain from 23 March to 7 June 2020.

Fear and frustration shape the UK's attitudes to lifting lockdown

The initial announcement of lockdown was greeted with happiness and relief. 

However, since then, fear and frustration have typified the emotions towards the easing of lockdown.

The public mood was at its lowest in the week commencing 20th April. Since then optimism has slowly, but steadily, grown.

Schools rather than shops are the public's key concern

Schools are more than twice as frequently associated with the topic of lifting lockdown than any other issue. This is the topic having most influence on our emotions towards easing restrictions.

It took just two weeks of lockdown for schools to become the public's main area of concern. Since the start of April schools have been firmly locked-in as the most talked about issue.

Sentiment towards school reopening is worsening

Since the start of lockdown the reopening of schools is the one area where public sentiment has significantly worsened.

In all other areas (pubs, restaurants, shops etc) reopening stimulates optimism and hope.

For schools the situation is reversed. Reopening makes people fearful and the strategy for reopening has attracted negative comment and sentiment.

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Issues associated with lifting lockdown
Influence of topics for lifting lockdown