People reminded to 'let in fresh air' when meeting others indoors

The Government has launched a new campaign, backed by medical experts, scientists and businesses, urging people to open windows when meeting friends and family indoors.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 10:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 10:26 am
The Government has launched a new campaign, backed by medical experts, scientists and businesses, urging people to open windows when meeting friends and family indoors.

It comes as restrictions have now eased 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 coronavirus 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 launched this week.

Fresh air helps disperse infected Covid-19 droplets in the air that may carry the virus, helping prevent the spread of the disease.

People 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.

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. Opinium surveyed 2,000 UK adults between 7 and 11 May 2021 and found:

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

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.

Professor Catherine Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering from Leeds University, who has previously created short information films to show how the virus transmits inside compared to outside, said: "An infected person releases COVID-19 particles into the air by coughing, talking or simply breathing and research shows the risk of infection is higher indoors than outdoors.

"When you are in enclosed spaces the infected particles can build up over time and remain suspended in the air, so those in the room are more likely to breathe in the infected particles, especially if there is no ventilation.

"With this in mind, as we begin to meet others inside, it’s so important we stick to the guidance and open windows so fresh air can disperse and blow COVID-19 particles away."

NHS GP, Dr Helen Lawal added: "It’s really exciting that we are now all going to be allowed to see friends and family members inside, however, it’s still incredibly important that we remember key behaviours when taking these steps.

"Following the ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ behaviours, such as washing hands, wearing face masks and opening windows (especially if you do have visitors inside your home), will ensure we are keeping our friends and family safe as we move through the roadmap out of lockdown.

"Don’t forget about the twice weekly testing, using lateral flow tests to help identify the 1 in 3 who don’t have any symptoms, and checking in on the NHS Covid-19 app when visiting public venues, will also help to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

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.

People are 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.