When it comes to protecting themselves and others from COVID-19, Canadians’ behaviour is a mixed bag. The good news is that mask wearing is way up: Canadians are nearly four times more likely to wear a mask ‘all the time’ outside since back in April. The bad news is Canadians are much more socially active than in the Spring and, at the same time, are less vigilant on critical measures like hand-washing and social distancing.
There is a significant increase in shopping activities outside the home. Canadians are much more likely now than in late March to visit a store other than the grocery or drug store (55% to 67%, at least once a week), and twice as likely since late May to eat a meal out at a restaurant (from 19% to 40% at least once a week.)
Canadians are about twice as likely to engage in weekly social activities as they were in late March:
- More than half (56%) meet up with a friend or relative outdoors at least once a week, up 26 points since tracking began at the end of March;
- A majority (51%) have visited a relative or friend in their home once a week, about twice as often now;
- More than a third (36%) have hosted a relative or friend in their home or met up with a small group outdoors (36%), up 13 and 22 points, respectively, since late March;
- At least once a week, 1-in-4 (27%) gather inside a home in small groups, up from 15% at the end of March.
At the same time, Canadians are less likely now to fully comply with protective behaviours like hand-washing and social distancing. Only 58% wash their hands ‘all the time,’ down eight points since tracking began. And less than half (48%) of Canadians say they social distance ‘all the time,’ down 14 points since late March.
Considering how crucial social distance is in the fight against COVID-19, this is alarming news. This negative development is partial offset by an increase in reported mask usage. The share of Canadians who wear a mask ‘all the time’ has increased dramatically since early April, from 14% to 49%. An additional 29% say they wear one ‘most of the time’, and only 3% of Canadians never wear a mask outside.
Canadians feel few signs of fatigue in maintaining these changes though, with a majority still fully engaged and concerned about the virus and worried about a second wave:
- By a 2-1 margin (49% to 25%), Canadians feel they can keep up the changes they’ve made to their daily life due to COVID-19, and that sentiment, on net, has increased 7 points since last month.
- News about the virus keeps more than 8-in-10 (83%) Canadians closely engaged, down just 8 points from the 9-in-10 (91%) in mid-March.
- 2-in-3 (65%) Canadians are still concerned about catching the virus, steady since late March, and 3-in-4 (77%) are worried about a vulnerable friend or relative catching it, down five points (82%).
- And a substantial majority (80%) of Canadians are worried that without the right precautions, Canada is in for a second wave, showing the highest level of worry recorded in our tracking.
Canadians are prepared for the long haul to change their behaviour. They continue to show high levels of concern about COVID which can be tapped into to motivate positive behaviours. But it is a troubling sign that Canadians could be swapping in masks to replace social distancing, when social distancing is the more powerful prevention measure.
For detailed results, download INNOVATIVE’s full report here.