Older people are more likely to be breaking lockdown rules than their younger counterparts, Government data has revealed, because they are striving to maintain the family unit.
According to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 23 per cent of people aged 16 to 29 reported physical contact with at least one other person when socialising indoors in the past 24 hours, excluding those in their household or support bubble – a decrease from 32 per cent the week before.
The ONS also found that physical contact with at least one other person when socialising indoors was highest for those aged 50 to 69 years at 25 per cent. It was lowest for those aged 70 years and over at 17 per cent.
Direct physical contact included shaking or holding hands, hugging, and making contact when passing objects.
Experts said that the reason middle aged people were more likely to break lockdown rules was because they are struggling to maintain the family unit, with children who live away from home wanting to visit.
Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said: "The lockdown rules and advice have always conflicted with many people’s sense of what is important in their social networks and relationships.
"The higher rate of indoor contacts among people aged between 50 and 69 probably reflects this. This generation often have caring relationships both upwards towards their own parents and downwards to their children and grandchildren.
"These relationships will often be essential to helping other people maintain independent lives or remain in school or work. Government rules are a much weaker pressure than family obligations."
Under current lockdown rules in England, people who do not live in the same household are only allowed to meet up if they do so outside – unless they form a support bubble.
The ONS published the latest data as part of its weekly report analysing the social impact of Covid-19 in England and Wales. The data covers the period from November 5 to 8 and is based on a survey of 6,031 adults aged 16 years and over.
At the time of data collection, England started its second national lockdown, Wales was on a "firebreak" national lockdown and those in Scotland were under "local protection levels".
The ONS data also revealed that only seven per cent of adults reported that they were in direct physical contact with at least one other person, excluding those in their household or support bubble, when socialising outdoors in the last 24 hours.
The highest percentage was reported by those aged 16 to 29, at 13 per cent, and the lowest by those aged 70 and over, at four per cent.
The ONS found that around six in 10 adults in Great Britain reported finding it very easy or easy to understand the lockdown measures where they live. Around seven in 10 reported finding it very easy or easy to follow the measures. There was little difference in how easy different age groups found it to understand them.
A lower percentage of those aged 16 to 29 – 62 per cent – reported finding it very easy or easy to follow the current lockdown measures, than those aged 70 years and over (74 per cent).