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Most Canadians want to hold the line on distancing

Last Updated Apr 20, 2020 at 7:22 am PDT

FILE - Hundreds of people wait in line to enter Costco in Toronto on Monday, April 13, 2020. Health officials and the government have asked that people stay inside to help curb the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Summary

Only one per cent of Canadians breaking COVID rules: poll

Most Canadians want restrictions to hold for months longer

One-in-10 in B.C. say keep economy closed until vaccine available

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As thousands rally against stay-at-home orders in the U.S., a new poll shows most Canadians want to stay home for a while.

Buoyed by the support of their president, those opposed to social distancing crowded into public spaces calling for America to re-open its economy, while calling the coronavirus a hoax.

However, on this side of the border, the general consensus appears to be quite the opposite.

“Nearly half of Canadians (46%) say restrictions in their own province should lift sometime in May or June, with another 28 per cent saying that they should stay in place until between July and October,” says a release accompanying the latest Angus Reid Institute poll.

(Courtesy The Angus Reid Institute)

When restrictions are lifted, very few Canadians plan to resume their routines immediately; Most say they would wait, “for a couple of weeks, or until the number of new COVID-19 known cases in their provinces had declined significantly, before ending self-isolation.”

Of those asked, respondents from Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the most likely to say they want to see restrictions on social distancing eased within a few weeks. Maritimers are most likely to say the economy should wait until a vaccine is developed.

In B.C., one-in-ten say measures should remain strict until that vaccine makes it here, but most think another month or two will do the trick.

While it may feel like a lot of people aren’t following the rules, only one per cent of survey respondents say they are out there  “doing whatever they want” during this pandemic.

“Four-in-five say they have been limiting their trips to stores for essential errands only. Meanwhile, more than half say they are exercising outside the house. Notably, nearly one-in-five are looking for ways to keep up in-person social connections – visiting friends and family from a distance. There has been confusion recently whether such behaviour constitutes ‘following the rules’ – and while public health officials are not encouraging it, enforcement has been mixed,” says the pollster.

The debate is split along partisan lines with those who voted for the Conservative Party of Canada more likely to support prioritizing the economy reopening over public health concerns.

Recently, Dr. Bonnie Henry told British Columbians there may be a gradual and slight easing of some restrictions in May, which could include the resumption of some scheduled surgeries and a slow re-opening of some businesses, with many continuing to work from home.

As for regular grocery shopping or large gatherings, those kinds of normals won’t return “for some time,” says Henry.