The Scientific Pandemic Insights group on Behaviours (SPI-B) as part of England’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), were commissioned by the UK Cabinet Office to identify strategies to embed infection control behaviours to minimize Covid-19 transmission in the long term.


With minimal direct evidence available, three sources of information were used to develop a set of proposals: (1) a scoping review of literature on sustaining behaviour change, (2) a review of key principles used in risk and safety management, and (3) prior reports and reviews on behaviour change from SPI-B. The information was collated and refined through discussion with SPI-B and SAGE colleagues to finalize the proposals.


Embedding infection control behaviours in the long-term will require changes to the financial, social, and physical infrastructure so that people in all sections of society have the capability, opportunity, and motivation needed to underpin those behaviours. This will involve building Covid-safe educational programmes, regulating to ensure minimum standards of safety in public spaces and workspaces, using communications and social marketing to develop a Covid-safe culture and identity, and providing resources so that all sections of society can build Covid-safe behaviours into their daily lives.


Embedding ‘Covid-safe’ behaviours into people’s everyday routines will require a co-ordinated programme to shape the financial, physical, and social infrastructure in the United Kingdom. Education, regulation, communications, and social marketing, and provision of resources will be required to ensure that all sections of society have the capability, opportunity, and motivation to enact the behaviours long term.

Cite as

Michie, S., West, R., Pidgeon, N., Reicher, S., Amlôt, R. & Bear, L. 2021, 'Staying ‘Covid-safe’: proposals for embedding behaviours that protect against Covid-19 transmission in the UK', British Journal of Health Psychology, 26(4), pp. 1238-1257. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12557

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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