December 18th: the majority of people do not expect a return to normal for at least another year
As COVID-19 cases have risen and fallen, and related restrictions have changed over time, people’s hopes about life returning to “normal” have also oscillated. The data in the chart shown gives the proportion of adults in Great Britain who expected life to return to normal within a particular timeframe.
Even during the least-bad moments in the pandemic, few people have been optimistic enough to expect a return to normal within three months. Opinion has mostly been divided between those who said it would take 4–6 months and those saying it would take more than a year. But over the last few months, the balance of opinion has shifted towards the bottom of the chart — people expecting a return to normal in more than a year or never.
At the beginning of December (before Omicron cases in the UK really started surge big time — the survey was conducted in the period 1 to 12 December 2021), 39% of adults said they expectected it to take more than a year for things to return to normal. The proportion expecting things “never” to return to normal hit an all-time-high at 14%.
Perhaps this reflects an element of dynamic learning on people’s part. Having got their hopes up, only to be disappointed, so many times, many are now — probably realistically — thinking that, while they may be some light at the end of the tunnel, we are far from having figured out how to live with SARS-CoV-2 (the name given by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses to the coronavirus causing COVID-19).