Adults 'spending up to three days a week at home despite lockdown easing'

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Adults 'spending up to three days a week at home despite lockdown easing'

UK adults are still staying at home for two to three days a week despite measures to ease lockdown, a new study says.

That is down from an average of four days spent at home at the start of lockdown in late March, according to University College London’s (UCL) Covid-19 social survey.

When lockdown began on March 23, people were only allowed to go out for one daily exercise session or for an essential trip, such as purchasing food or medicine.

Restrictions have since been relaxed to allow people unlimited exercise, non-essential outings and to meet up with friends or family.

While people increasingly went out more days each week as the lockdown progressed, over the last two weeks this has plateaued.

The lowest earners and people with diagnosed mental health conditions are spending the most time in their homes, risking increased loneliness, anxiety and depression, the study found.

The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling during lockdown.

More than 90,000 people have participated, and the latest data goes up to June 14.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt, from UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, suggested the numbers still spending several days a week at home “could be in response to poorer weather, or continued worries about the virus”.

Cheryl Lloyd, education programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “As lockdown eases, we are seeing that people with lower household incomes, a mental health diagnosis, younger adults, those living alone and those in urban areas are less likely to go outdoors for at least 15 minutes a day.

“These groups are also most at risk of loneliness, depression and anxiety, so as lockdown relaxes we must ensure those most vulnerable have access to appropriate support to limit the longer-term psychological impacts of the pandemic.”

The study also found worries about others, general anxiety and depression have remained stable over the past few weeks, despite measures being eased.

Levels of anxiety and depression have stopped falling and plateaued at a level below that experienced at the start of lockdown but higher than pre-lockdown levels.

Similarly, life satisfaction and happiness levels have stopped increasing in the past two weeks.

During lockdown, the lowest happiness levels have been among younger adults, those living alone, those with lower household income, people with diagnosed mental health conditions, and in people living in urban areas.

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