A LECTURER believes people deserve credit for their “largely sensible post-lockdown behaviour”.

Dr Chris Cocking from the University of Brighton made the comments after pubs, restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen at the weekend for the first time in more than three months.

There were fears this loosening of lockdown rules, dubbed “Super Saturday”, could see cities descend into chaos with people disregarding social distancing guidelines.

But Dr Cocking said these fears were largely unfounded.

The Argus:

He said: “Throughout Covid, the public have behaved much better than expected and so we should stop demonising public responses to emergencies.

“Any problems we have faced can be better explained by unclear and inconsistent public messaging from authorities.”

Sussex Police data from the weekend appeared to strengthen his argument.

The force said 42 arrests were made between 6pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday, with a further 24 people detained between 8am and 5pm that day.

The Argus:

Most arrests were made between 5pm on Saturday and 8am on Sunday, with 75 people detained in this time across the county.

This made for a total of 141 arrests in 38 hours.

But Sussex Police said these figures were “broadly in line with what we would expect” and added that they “cover all aspects of our policing operations, not just those related to the easing of the lockdown”.

Superintendent Graham Barnett went on to thank people “for the responsible way in which they made their return to business”.

The Argus:

Dr Cocking is now planning a research project surrounding the “spontaneous volunteering and mutual collective support seen in Brighton and Hove and the South East in response to the coronavirus pandemic”.

More than 750,000 people volunteered to help the NHS at the start of lockdown but, by May 2020, most had not formally been recruited to help.

Dr Cocking said: “This could be because of the vast number of local mutual aid groups that sprang up spontaneously in response to the outbreak, which made volunteering for the NHS somewhat redundant.

“There are an estimated 4,300 groups currently connecting more than three million people in the UK outside of national and local governmental structures.”