Public reminded to let in fresh air when meeting others indoors to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
• Government launches new campaign backed by medical experts, scientists and businesses urging the public to open windows when meeting friends and family indoors
• It comes as restrictions ease from today (Monday 17 May) with groups of six people, or two households, allowed to meet inside, and indoor hospitality and entertainment can reopen
• New research reveals a quarter of adults either don’t know or don’t believe that opening windows when inside to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which alongside Hands, Face, Space, remains essential to stop the spread of the virus
Everyone across England is being encouraged to remember, “when you let friends in, let fresh air in too” in a new government advertising campaign launching today (Monday 17 May).
The public information campaign has launched on the same day groups of six people, or two households, will once again be able to meet indoors, and indoor hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries are reopening their doors.
As more people begin to spend time with friends and family inside, the campaign continues to highlight the importance of letting in fresh air.
Fresh air helps disperse infected COVID-19 droplets in the air that may carry the virus, helping prevent the spread of the disease. The public are being encouraged to open windows when socialising at home and businesses are asked to ensure adequate ventilation at indoor venues.
The public are also being urged to download and use the NHS COVID-19 App for check in on arrival at public venues. This is the quickest and easiest way to check in securely, enabling everyone to receive important public health messages as fast as possible. Research published in Nature journal this week shows the app, which has been downloaded over 23 million times, averted approximately 600,000 COVID-19 cases between October and December 2020 and prevented thousands of deaths.
The new campaign will run across TV, radio, press, digital, out of home advertising and social media.
The message is essential as new research from Opinium, a strategic insight agency has uncovered low awareness from the public about why some of these behaviours are important. It found1:
- a quarter of adults (25%) either don’t know or don’t believe that opening windows when inside will reduce the spread of COVID-19;
- one in five (19%) do not understand why meeting people outside is better than meeting inside;
- there was high awareness of the need to wear a face covering (81%), washing hands (87%) and keeping distance (83%);
- one in five (21%) adults are unaware that the risk of catching COVID-19 is reduced when outside compared to inside;
- just under half (46%) are unaware that fresh air blows COVID-19 particles away;
- 15% incorrectly believe that it is impossible to catch COVID-19 when outside;
- only half (50%) of Brits recognise that windows should be opened regularly throughout the day to reduce the risk of spreading the virus; and
- under a third (30%) open doors and windows a few times a day, 26% once every day, and 16% every few days – highlighting the need for more people to start letting fresh air into their homes.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
“With infections nationwide remaining low, and over half of the adult population now vaccinated, we are able to take the next step out of lockdown and get back to the things we love doing.
“But with the presence of variants in the UK and around the world, COVID-19 remains a very real threat, so we must stay vigilant.
“I urge you to exercise caution when meeting up with friends and family and to keep a safe distance from others.
“Remember meeting people outside is always safer, and when meeting indoors, make sure you let in fresh air by opening a window or door.
“These are small changes we can all make in our daily lives that will have a huge impact on stopping the virus from spreading.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said:
“We have made great progress over the past few months in reducing infections, thanks to the efforts of the public and the roll-out of our vaccination programme. However, the virus is still circulating and with the B1.617.2 variant on the rise, it is important we all remain cautious.
“The evidence is very clear that outdoor spaces are safer than indoors, and when you are indoors letting in fresh air helps reduce risk.
“Regardless of whether you are planning on meeting indoors or outdoors, it is vital that if you have a fever, continuous cough or there is a change in your taste or smell that you isolate immediately, order a test and do not mix with others.”
Rules on physical contact with friends and family will also relax and the public is being encouraged to take personal responsibility when deciding to hug loved ones.
Medical experts, SAGE scientists and spokespeople from certain industries reopening, including Merlin Entertainments, British Institute of Innkeeping, Association of Independent Museums and British Holiday & Home Parks Association are supporting the campaign to reiterate the messages to the public.
While infections and deaths continue to fall in most parts of the UK, they are rising in many parts of the world and variants remain a threat to the significant gains the UK has made over the past year. The public is encouraged to protect these gains by continuing to exercise caution and common sense. People must follow social distancing when not with friends and family, including in workplaces, shops, pubs, restaurants, and they are encouraged to ensure adequate ventilation, when indoors, to prevent the spread of the virus and variants. Remembering, hands – face – space – and plenty of fresh air.