Australians are continuing their orderly transition towards a post-Covid “new normal”, expressing support for reopening a wide range of activities in this week’s survey of more than 1,200 people nationwide. Our 14 th weekly tracking survey, taken Monday 8 June to Wednesday 10 June, suggests government moves to open up the economy are well timed, with some 81% of people comfortable with eat-in dining at restaurants with appropriate hygiene and social distancing measures in place.
There is also support for reopening galleries and museums (73%), pubs and clubs (66%) children’s team sports (63%) adult recreational team sport (58%) and cinemas (55%). However, only 30% believe crowds at professional sporting events should being allowed at this stage. And in a further indication of Australians’ cautious support for liberalisation, only 28% think it would be appropriate to see state borders opened up in the next month, 70% think it should happen in the next three months.
There are some indications also of community reaction to the heated debate about protest rallies, with concern about violent or inconsiderate behaviour in the community rising to 56% (from 49% last week).
On all measures concern about coronavirus is down: unprompted concern about the virus is now only 35% (compared to 72% in mid-April) and prompted concern just 63% (compared to 68% last week and 92% in early April). This downward trajectory in virus worries is mirrored by a rising trend in consumer activity: only 31% say they spent less money than they normally would in the past week compared with 55% in early April. The economy (77%), jobs (71%) and the cost of living (70%) are holding steady as the biggest prompted concerns of Australians.
This week we looked further at government stimulus programs and found the increased JobSeeker payment is well received (60% positive and 15% negative) but there are polarised opinions on the HomeBuilder grants scheme (31% positive and 28% negative). JobKeeper continues to have strong public support (67% positive and 11% negative).
Most Australians still think we’re on the right track with easing restrictions despite signs of diverging opinion at the margins, a trend all governments will be watching for closely as the country transitions. Three quarters (77%) say Australia is responding at an appropriate level to coronavirus, down from 82% last week. Those saying we are over-reacting has risen from 7% to 11% and those saying we are not taking the issue seriously enough is stable at 12%. Attitudes to the rate of easing restrictions has also been fairly stable over the past month with more than half continuing to believe that restrictions are being lifted at the right pace (53%), three in ten feeling they are being lifted too quickly (31%) and 16% too slowly.
Despite their ongoing support for the pace of change, some 65% of those surveyed said they were ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned about a potential second wave of the virus with 27% saying they were extremely concerned about it. Optimism about the virus spreading in the next three months dipped a little this week with 47% saying it will get better, down from 51% last week.
In the last eight weeks self-reported behaviours show a gradual drop in avoiding non-essential contact and staying home more than usual but these are still well above ‘normal’ levels. Nearly half (48%) report their behaviour is consistent with restrictions and four in ten continue to be more careful than what is required (40%), with 12% more relaxed. Despite this, two in three Australians (64%) continue to agree that others are not taking social distancing seriously enough.
Not surprisingly many are paying less attention to news associated with coronavirus with nearly one in three (31%) agreeing they are tired of hearing about the virus and are not paying attention to government updates and instructions about it. Interestingly media tracking by Streem suggests virus mentions have fallen below 50% of all news coverage for the first time in nearly three months.
This week we threw the spotlight on working parents and found they were more likely than other Australians to be:
• Concerned about a family member catching the virus (60% vs. 51%)
• Working from home (43% vs. 21%)
• Avoiding shaking hands with people (61% vs. 53%)
• Experiencing reduced working hours (21% vs. 14%)
• Getting their information from social media (45% vs. 32%)