People didn’t follow the Covid rules out of fear. They did it for the common good | Nicky Hawkins

As new UK restrictions come into force, it’s worth remembering that being socially responsible is the norm, research suggests

As the government lurches from U-turns to full-on pile-ups, and a second wave of Covid-19 looms large, it’s worth remembering something. For three months back in the spring, we – UK citizens – did what we needed to do. The government may have dozed at the wheel, but when it finally woke up, we acted collectively by staying at home to save lives. And with some notable exceptions, we stayed the course by locking down for longer and more willingly than some predicted.

It’s heartening that we have it in us to act together, especially when it’s not easy for us. But what made us do it? What compelled us to stay in our homes and keep away from our loved ones and, often, our livelihoods? It may sound like a pointless question with an obvious answer: we were scared of catching the virus – or of being caught breaking the rules.

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