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Nearly one in four people delete or switch off the NHS Covid app

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Nearly one in four people delete or switch off the NHS Covid app while millions more will ignore isolation demands amid mounting anger at the ‘pingdemic’

  • Mounting public anger at the ‘pingdemic’ has led to a revolt against Covid app
  • Nearly one in four people has deleted or switched off the app, poll reveals
  • Millions more say they will refuse to isolate if ‘pinged’ by the app 

Mounting public anger at the ‘pingdemic’ has led to a mass revolt against the NHS Covid app and self-isolation rules, a poll reveals today.

Nearly one in four people has deleted or switched off the app – and millions more say they will refuse to isolate if ‘pinged’.

The backlash has been fuelled by the row over Boris Johnson‘s initial attempt to avoid going into self-isolation after he was in contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who contracted the virus.

A total of 72 per cent of people say the Government’s Covid stance has been a ‘shambles’ in the past few days.

But despite worries that Mr Johnson may be relaxing the rules too quickly, the poll for the Daily Mail shows clear backing for his ‘if not now, when?’ approach to controlling the virus.

Nearly one in four people has deleted or switched off the app ¿ and millions more say they will refuse to isolate if 'pinged'

Nearly one in four people has deleted or switched off the app – and millions more say they will refuse to isolate if ‘pinged’

If Covid deaths remain low and most of those who need hospital treatment have not been vaccinated, voters are opposed to renewed curbs – unless there is a full-scale NHS crisis. In other developments:

  • The UK recorded another 46,558 Covid cases and a further 96 deaths – up from 50 a week earlier;
  • Self-isolation rules descended into chaos after two ministers said people did not have to obey alerts from the NHS app – only for No 10 to say it was ‘crucial’ they did so;
  • Ministers are considering requiring drinkers to prove they have had the vaccine in order to go to the pub this autumn;
  • Over a million pupils were absent from school for Covid-related reasons last week – a record high since classes fully reopened in March;
  • Ministers insisted Spain was unlikely to be added imminently to the ‘amber-plus’ list of countries.

Get the jabs in: Passports for pubs ‘by the autumn’

Drinkers will have to prove they are fully vaccinated to go to the pub this autumn under plans being considered by ministers.

Tory MPs voiced fury last night as Government sources said vaccine passports could be required across the hospitality sector.

William Wragg, Tory chair of the Commons public administration committee, said: ‘It is a dreadful idea. If you give people the facts they make an informed choice, but this would be a form of coercion.’ 

One lockdown sceptic said the Prime Minister ‘shouldn’t be surprised if lots of Conservative MPs and activists refuse to attend’ the party conference if forced to prove their vaccination status.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross added: ‘I don’t like a situation where we could have two tiers of people – those who can and have been vaccinated and those who so far have not.’

The results of the J L Partners survey – the first major poll conducted since the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday – appear to signal a sea change in public attitudes.

Since coronavirus hit the UK last year there has generally been strong support for strict controls to control its spread. But fears over the pandemic appear to have given way to fury at the ‘pingdemic’.

Vast numbers have been told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app, which indicates they may have been in contact with someone who has gone down with the virus. The majority of those who have been ‘pinged’ are not infected, causing havoc in public services, key industries and education.

According to the poll, 23 per cent of the public have either deleted it from their electronic devices or turned it off.

Nearly one in five (18 per cent) of those who have ditched the app have done so since the self-isolation fiasco involving Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak at the weekend. After being told they had been in contact with Mr Javid, the pair planned to use a testing scheme loophole to avoid having to go into isolation – until public outrage forced them into a U-turn.

Among those still using the app, one in four (24 per cent) say they are considering abandoning it.

More than six out of ten (62 per cent) maintain the conduct of Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak will make the public less likely to obey self-isolation rules – 72 per cent say it will lead to greater numbers deleting the app. Most damaging of all, more than three in four (76 per cent) say the episode shows senior Conservatives believe there is ‘one rule for them and another for everyone else’, according to the poll.

More encouragingly for Mr Johnson, despite Labour claims that he is ‘reckless’ to ease the rules, his overall approach commands widespread support. An overwhelming 72 per cent say it is time for the nation to ‘live with Covid because the curbs cannot last for ever’.

More than half (55 per cent) back Mr Johnson’s argument that now is the right time to give the public more freedom. Only 20 per cent disagree. Similarly, 44 per cent say if Britain does not get back to normal now, it might never do so. A total of 38 per cent disagree with this statement.

The survey also suggests voters are more sympathetic to calls by Tory MPs for a ‘more realistic’ attitude to coping with Covid over the long term. Asked if restrictions should be increased if Covid deaths are the same level as flu deaths, only 17 per cent agree, with 33 per cent saying they should be decreased. A total of 29 per cent say curbs should continue to be reduced if most of those who need hospital treatment have not had the vaccine. Some 20 per cent say curbs should be tightened if this occurs.

Similarly, 28 per cent say curbs should continue to be eased if hospitalisation rates remain high while deaths stay low, while 20 per cent say controls should be made more stringent in this eventuality. But there is strong support (62 per cent) for another Covid crackdown if the NHS is in danger of being over-run by a big upsurge in cases. Nearly three in four voters (73 per cent) believe there will be another lockdown in the winter.

Mr Johnson’s so-called ‘vaccine halo’ – a surge in his personal support on the back of the Government’s successful vaccination programme – is slipping. A total of 61 per cent say he has handled Covid badly, against 30 per cent who say he has handled it well.

But in a head-to-head, across-the-board contest with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Johnson wins by 36 per cent to 28.

The self isolation row has also brought Mr Sunak’s sky-high ratings closer to earth. He is still the most popular Cabinet minister, but his net rating of plus 21 points is down 19 since September.

J L Partners interviewed 1,021 adults in England, Wales and Scotland online on Monday and Tuesday. 

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