Have your say: Have you reduced your socialising for fear of being 'pinged'?

·2 min read
Britons are avoiding social contact amid fear of being 'pinged', a poll has suggested. (Stock image: Getty)
Britons are avoiding social contact amid fear of being 'pinged', a poll has suggested. (Stock image: Getty)

Nearly half of Britons are reducing social contact amid fears that they will be "pinged", a poll has revealed. 

A YouGov poll for The Times found that 46% of people said they had deliberately reduced how much contact they have with other people to avoid being told to self-isolate by the NHS COVID app. 

That compared to just under four in ten (39%) people who said they hadn't changed the way they socialise. 

The poll comes amid widespread concerns about the so-called "pingdemic", which has led to hundreds of thousands of people having to self-isolate, putting pressure on many industries. 

Last week NHS figures showed that a record 689,313 alerts were sent to users of the COVIS app in England and Wales in the week up to 21 July. 

Businesses across all sectors have complained that they are struggling to maintain operations when so many staff have been told to stay at home by the app.

Read more: WHO: The world is blind to where COVID is and how it’s changing

Fully vaccinated adults will be exempt from self-isolation rules from 16 August, but there have been calls for the date to be brought forward in line with plans for Wales and Scotland amid concerns that the pingdemic is affecting production. 

The YouGov poll for The Times surveyed 1,722 people on 29 and 30 July, and found that many say they are sticking to the rules. 

Watch: 'Pingdemic' record numbers as 689,313 alerts sent from NHS app

However, one in 10 (10%) said they had deleted the NHS app from their phones and 13% had turned off contact tracing to avoid being pinged. 

ONS data for 21-25 July suggests that 95% of adults are still wearing face coverings when outside their home, but the proportion of people who "always or often maintained social distancing" fell from 63% the previous week to 61%.

The ONS figures suggested that more people were meeting up with people from outside of their own household, with more than half (55%) of adults saying they had met indoors – up 20% from the week ending 6 May, before indoor restrictions were lifted.

Meanwhile, adults meeting outdoors with someone not in their household in the past seven days had increased to 68% from 20% in the week ending 7 March, before outdoor activity restrictions were lifted.

Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak urged people to continue following self-isolation rules until 16 August, saying: "I know it's frustrating, please stick with it. It's just a few more weeks and then we can all look forward, hopefully, to a very good summer."

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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