The area of England where people are most worried about COVID

Pedestrians walk by a billboard displaying a Manchester City Council message about the about the national lockdown restrictions to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic in the centre of Manchester, northwest England, on November 26, 2020. - London will escape the tightest restrictions once England's national coronavirus lockdown ends next week, the government said Thursday, but major cities including Manchester and Birmingham face at least two more weeks of tough rules. England will return to a regional tiered system when the national regulations end on December 2, with those areas suffering the worst case rates entering the highest Tier 3. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
New research from the ONS shows the areas where people are most worried about the effect coronavirus is having on their lives. (Getty)

People in west and north-west London are the most concerned about the effect coronavirus is having on their life.

That’s according to a new survey by the Office for National Statistics, which asked people across the country how worried they are in the fortnight before the latest lockdown and the first fortnight of the lockdown.

The level of concern varied across England, the ONS found, with people in London most worried during the first fortnight of lockdown, at 76%.

That compared to 62% of people in Dorset and Somerset who were worried about the effect the virus was having on their life.

ONS figures show how the proportion of people worried about the effect coronavirus is having on their lives in different areas has changed. (ONS)
ONS figures show how the proportion of people worried about the effect coronavirus is having on their lives in different areas has changed. (ONS)

According to the figures, three of the five London areas were among the areas where the highest proportion of worry was reported.

The areas where people were most worried had shifted from the fortnight before lockdown, with figures showing the highest was Cheshire with 83% and Cornwall the lowest at 60%.

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The largest drops in concern were in North Yorkshire, Dorset and Somerset, while only Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly showed a significant rise in worry about the effect COVID would have on people’s lives.

Earlier this year, the ONS reported that following the first lockdown one in eight adults (12.9%) experienced moderate to severe depressive symptoms in June 2020.

Mental health charity Mind has also warned of a “second, mental health pandemic” if nothing is done to support people mentally during the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures come as the government was facing a backlash after announcing which tiers certain areas would fall into - with some areas angry they have been moved from Tier 1 before the November lockdown into Tier 3 when it ends on December 2.

Watch: Fury as dozens of Tory MPs complain about tier system

Other areas were concerned that they had been lumped in with others with higher infection rates, putting them into higher tiers than expected.

Boris Johnson is reportedly facing a potential revolt from MPs and local leaders concerned that the system - which has seen London put in Tier 2 - is unfair.

Former cabinet minister Damian Green, Tory MP for Ashford in Kent, which is going into Tier 3, said there is a lot of anger on the Conservative benches.

He told Times Radio: “I know colleagues in Dorset are very annoyed and our colleagues in Lincolnshire are very annoyed and and quite a lot in other areas where the the incidence is very low.”

Asked on Channel 4 News about how effective the system could be when people think it’s unfair, Professor Stephen Reicher, social psychologist at the University of St Andrews, said: “Any tier system, to be effective has got to be clear, has got to be fair, has got to be effective and it has to go along with support so people can do what’s being asked of them.”

He added that research suggests that when people think there is “no point” to restrictions, they are unlikely to abide by them.

Amid widespread anger over the tier system, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick insisted there is “every reason” to expect some areas could be moved into a lower tier when the restrictions come up for their first 14-day review on December 16.

He said: “At that point we – advised by the experts – will look at each local authority area and see whether there is potential to move down the tiers.

“There were a number of places which were quite finely balanced judgments where they were on the cusp of different tiers. Those are the places that are more likely to be in that position.”

However, Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned there would be limited scope for easing controls so quickly.

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work