Around one in seven adults stated that they had not always or often distanced themselves socially during the past seven days while meeting others.
About 85% of adults said they were always or often socially distant while meeting with people outside their household, support or childcare bubble, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
However, around 14% answered “sometimes”, “not very often” and “never”, increasing to 24% of adults aged 16 to 29 years.
The most common reasons were seeing friends (59%) and family members (47%), the ONS said.
There may have been “valid, substantial reasons” why people were unable to maintain social distance, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they broke coronavirus rules.
It analyzed the responses of 3,791 adults in the UK who were surveyed between April 21st and 25th as part of its opinion and lifestyle survey.
Overall, 10% of adults reported meeting indoors with someone outside their household, support, or childcare bubble in the past seven days.
More than half (57%) had done this outdoors.
The ONS found that younger adults were less likely to be socially distant when meeting friends.
Two-thirds of adults aged 16 to 29 said they did not distance themselves socially because they were with friends, compared to 38% of adults aged 70 and over.
Older adults were more likely not to be socially distant from their families – 55% of adults aged 70 and over who were not always or often socially distant gave this reason, compared with 38% of 16-29 year olds.
However, a senior scientist said that “two elderly vaccinated people should be able to hug each other”.
Prof. Tim Spector OBE, who leads the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, said The mirror: “We shouldn’t worry about meeting people outside. I think we can increasingly enjoy life as long as we’re sensible.
“This is comforting for older people who have been isolating themselves for a year and been double-vaccinated to say, ‘Look, your risk is so low you should go out and socialize.
“Two elderly vaccinated people should be able to hug each other.”