Social interactions starting to increase, surveys say

August 18, 2020 | Last updated on August 18, 2020
2 min read

As pandemic restrictions loosen, your client may be more open to increasing their social interactions and less concerned about health risks.

A StatsCan survey conducted between July 20 and July 26 found that a decreasing proportion of Canadians are avoiding leaving their homes as a precaution against Covid-19 — 74% compared to about 90% in a previous survey conducted from March 29 to April 3. The July finding represented a significant change, StatsCan said.

The July survey also found evidence of increased social interactions compared to earlier in the year. Only 8% of survey respondents said they hadn’t been in close contact with anyone outside their households in the past week, compared to 29% in March/April.

In fact, more than one-third (38%) said they’d been in close contact with at least nine people in the past week, compared to 17% in the previous survey.

Those 65 and older remained more cautious, however. Roughly one-fifth of respondents in this age group (22%) said they’d been in close contact with at least nine people outside their households in the past week.

Health concerns were also waning. About 42% of survey respondents said they were concerned about a household member’s health, compared to 54% in the earlier survey. While 62% were concerned about vulnerable people’s health, that figure was down from about 79% previously.

Results for older Canadians were in line with those findings. Among those age 65 and older, 32% said they were very or extremely concerned about their own health, compared to nearly half in the March/April survey.

Survey respondents widely embraced mask-wearing, with 84% saying they wear a mask or other personal protective equipment (this precaution wasn’t included in the earlier survey).

As Canadians’ pandemic-related concerns ease overall, a separate survey highlighted how attitudes vary by individual.

A recent Angus Reid Institute survey categorized respondents by their pandemic-motivated actions.

Just under half of those polled (47%) followed virus suppression behaviours carefully, while roughly one-third (36%) took an inconsistent approach to flattening the curve.

The remaining 18% had expanded their social circles and forgone physical distancing, and were ambivalent about mask-wearing and hand-washing. More than half of this segment (53%) had socialized with more than 10 people outside their households in the last month.

While a person’s pandemic responses correlated with such things as political affiliation, age was among the most significant factors affecting Covid-19 compliance. Men and women age 55 and older acted most cautiously, the survey found.

About the Angus Reid Institute survey: A representative sample of 1,511 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum were polled online from Aug. 5 to Aug. 8, 2020. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/− 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About the StatsCan survey: A series of surveys called the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series uses a panel of 4,600 Canadians to complete short online surveys. The panel is based on the Labour Force Survey and thus representative of the general population.