Why blaming young people for the Covid-19 spike could backfire

From this week, private gatherings of more than six people have been banned in England, Scotland and Wales. The tough new rules come as official figures show cases of Covid-19 are now doubling every week.

Last week, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, warned there could be a second wave of the virus if young people did not follow social distancing rules. But was he right to single out young people, among whom coronavirus appears to be spreading fastest?

Stephen Reicher, a professor of social psychology at St Andrews University, tells Anushka Asthana that blaming individuals or specific groups is likely to be counterproductive in the battle to win support and trust for new restrictions.

Meanwhile, with a huge backlog in the country’s testing system, fears are growing that even tougher restrictions may ultimately be needed.

People partying in the West End, central London

Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

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