Wearing face coverings to prevent airborne viral transmission has at times been legally mandated, followed by periods when rules were relaxed. The present study tracks changes in face covering and the impacts on people’s perceptions of their capabilities, opportunities and motivations.
Three-wave survey. At wave 1 (25 January–6 February 2022), 10 622 UK adults reported: (a) sociodemographic characteristics; (b) face covering in work, public transport and indoor leisure settings and (c) capabilities, opportunities and motivations. Measures were repeated 1–18 March 2022 and 20 May–6 June 2022. Data were analyzed descriptively, within-participants analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and multiple linear regression.
Face covering decreased over time as rules around the wearing of face coverings relaxed. Perceptions of capabilities, opportunities and motivations to wear face coverings were consistently associated with the actual wearing of face coverings, with marked decreases in motivations over time.
Decreases in motivations seem to explain best the reasons for declining levels of face covering. Further work is required to develop interventions to change people’s motivations and promote the wearing of face coverings, should they be required in the future.