People wear face masks as they wait to enter the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. A new poll suggests Canadians are increasingly wearing protective face masks as they emerge from months of isolating at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Cautious Canadians increasingly wearing masks, fear second wave of COVID: Poll

Fifty-three per cent said masks should be mandatory in public and confined spaces

Canadians are increasingly wearing protective face masks as they emerge from months of isolating at home to curb the spread of COVID-19, a new poll suggests.

And it suggests that fear of a second wave of infections as bad as or worse than the first wave may behind their increased caution.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents to the Leger and Association for Canadian Studies survey said they have worn masks to go grocery shopping — up eight percentage points in one week.

Forty-five per cent said they’ve worn masks to go to a pharmacy (up seven points), 17 per cent at work (up four points), 14 per cent on public transit (up four points) and 12 per cent to go for walks (up two points).

And 53 per cent — up two points — said masks should be mandatory in public and confined spaces, like shopping malls and public transit.

The online poll, conducted June 5 to 7, surveyed 1,523 adult Canadians; it cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

The increased wearing of masks reflects the fact that restrictions on physical distancing are slowly easing across the country, with more Canadians venturing out of their homes and going back to work.

But Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said it may also reflect fear of a second wave of the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they expect a second wave will hit Canada. And 32 per cent said they expect a second wave that is stronger than the first, with another 40 per cent saying they expect it to be just as strong.

ALSO READ: Amid anti-racism protests, Trudeau promises to push police body cameras with premiers

Bourque said that fear is also reflected in widespread support for a go-slow approach to reopening the country after three months of pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Two-thirds of respondents said governments should maintain the current, cautious pace of reopening, while another 21 per cent said they should slow down. Just 13 per cent wanted the pace sped up.

Fewer than 10 per cent supported reopening restaurants, hotels, gyms, bars, concert halls and theatres without any restrictions.

As long as safety precautions are in place, 68 per cent were comfortable seeing restaurants reopen, 67 per cent hotels, 55 per cent gyms or other fitness facilities and 50 per cent bars. But even with restrictions, just 44 per cent supported reopening concert halls and theatres, while 49 per cent were opposed.

“Canadians are being extremely prudent and careful about how they want us to go into sort of this exit strategy of Wave 1, probably because they fear Wave 2 is coming soon,” said Bourque.

“By no means is this over in Canadians’ minds … Maybe it’s just Canadians being Canadians, being careful about everything.”

Fully 80 per cent of respondents said it’s each Canadian’s individual responsibility to try to prevent a second wave of the pandemic. Just 17 per cent put the responsibility on governments.

Still, 16 per cent of respondents said they don’t intend to get an eventual vaccine against COVID-19, while another 16 per cent said they don’t know if they will. Sixty-eight per cent said they would get vaccinated.

Bourque speculated that not all those who said they won’t or might not get vaccinated are “anti-vaxxers.” Some likely feel they are young and healthy and at little risk of falling seriously ill.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

CHECK THIS OUT: Library offers Summer Reading Club with a twist

There won’t be in-library drop-ins, but there will still be many opportunities to connect with books

New dugouts, netting among renos underway at Queen Elizabeth Park

The Nelson Baseball Association is in the middle of a three-year park revitalization

LETTER: Lockdowns are effective

From reader Brenda D. Cooper

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Most Read