Survey reveals many people very cautious about risks of infection when Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are changed

Nearly three quarters of people (73 per cent) still feel the restrictions in place in Wales to control coronavirus are about right. Most people feel cautious about changes with 90 per cent of those surveyed during the week 11-17 May thinking it should be more than three weeks before schools reopen.

These figures come from the latest national engagement survey conducted by Public Health Wales. Each week Public Health Wales is conducting interviews with hundreds of people aged 18 or over across Wales, to understand how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures being used to prevent its spread are affecting the physical, mental and social wellbeing of people in Wales.

Preferring to stay in lockdown is still most people’s preference with 59 per cent saying they would prefer to stay in lockdown until there is no chance of catching the virus. Concern for losing someone to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) remains consistently high with 62 per cent of people worrying ‘a lot’ about such a loss. However, levels of infection going up a little when some restrictions are removed is acceptable to 44 per cent of people but seen as unacceptable to a similar proportion (47 per cent), and 45 per cent of people support non-essential workers returning to work within the next three weeks.

On using face masks 11 per cent of people reported already using them most of the time when they go out and 17 per cent some of time. Furthermore, 54 per cent of people said that, as current restrictions are lifted, people in public places should be made to wear face masks. When people are on public transport this figure rises to 84 per cent. However, only 29 per cent of people supported children having to wear face masks when they return to school.

A government app that alerts you if you have been near someone that has coronavirus gets strong support amongst the public with 81 per cent of people saying they would find this acceptable.

This latest report covers the period of 11–17 May when 554 people were surveyed. Findings from the latest report focus especially on Recovery (people’s views on how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) related measures could be eased or strengthened in the coming weeks and months).

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales said: “Critical to the successful easing of measures established to control the spread of coronavirus will be ensuring the public understand and support any gradual changes in restrictions. Campaigns to educate people about the risks to health posed by coronavirus have been very successful. As a result, these findings show how most people in Wales are still very cautious about any changes in restrictions and how those changes might increase risks to themselves and their loved ones.”

“To allow for a successful transition back into a more social and productive society, people will need explanations and advice on how they can manage any risks associated with moving out of their houses. It is also important to ensure people understand that, as restrictions continue, they also pose an increasing threat to people’s long-term health and wellbeing.”

The survey is part of a raft of measures being implemented by Public Health Wales to support public health and wellbeing through Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Other measures implemented have also included the launch of Public Health Wales’ ‘How are you doing?’ wellbeing campaign, created to support the people of Wales to look after their wellbeing and to ensure public health is protected during the isolation period.