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Most Canadians willing to adhere to 'new normal' rules like wearing masks and physical distancing: poll

National Post logo National Post 2020-05-11 Tyler Dawson
a person holding a sign posing for the camera: Canadians are generally in widespread agreement they'll follow the rules in order to move around more freely in society. © Peter J. Thompson/National Post Canadians are generally in widespread agreement they'll follow the rules in order to move around more freely in society.

EDMONTON — Albertans are the least likely of all Canadians to tolerate the installation of apps on their phones to monitor their health and and track their whereabouts in order to move around more freely as provinces ease pandemic lockdowns, according to a new poll.

The revelation comes in a poll from DART & maru/BLUE gauging the willingness of Canadians to adhere to various conditions, from hand sanitizer at grocery stores to wearing a mask in an elevator, as governments across the country contemplate re-opening economies amid COVID-19.

It finds nearly six in 10 Canadians (57 per cent) would adhere to 14 out of 16 conditions that could be imposed. The conditions listed for the survey were drawn from real-life conditions being considered or imposed by various health and safety officials around the globe.

a person holding a cell phone:  Alberta’s ABTraceTogether contact tracing app has proved to be unpopular with its citizens. © Gavin Young/Postmedia Alberta’s ABTraceTogether contact tracing app has proved to be unpopular with its citizens.

A significant majority of people were willing to do everything on the list, except for tracing apps. Even then, that’s because Alberta dragged down the average. The Alberta government’s recently revealed contact tracing app, called ABTraceTogether, has had some technical issues; reports indicate it doesn’t function in the background on iPhones.

And Heather Sweet, Alberta’s NDP House leader, has also raised privacy concerns. “We know this was rolled out very quickly and the privacy commissioner has not come back with her final recommendations,” Sweet said.

John Wright, who leads the DART & maru/Blue team, said the poll is a national look at Canadians in the midst of the pandemic. “We now have consistency across the country of what people would be interested in complying with.”

Canadians are generally in widespread agreement they’ll follow the rules in order to move around more freely in society.

Nearly every Canadian — 93 per cent — is very willing, or somewhat willing, to use hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit of every establishment, the survey found. The same percentage are willing to adhere to physical distancing rules and restrictions on the number of patrons at grocery stores. Likewise, 88 per cent of Canadians are willing to accept quotas on the number of patrons in retail shops, based on square footage.

When it comes to eating out, 89 per cent of Canadians are OK with restaurants making sure there is at least 1.5 metres between tables, or to have a partition, and 87 per cent accept restaurants remain at 50 per cent of seating capacity. And, 80 per cent of Canadians are willing to sit with no more than four people at their table.

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Canadians are mostly OK with physical distancing rules: 53 per cent are “very willing” and 34 per cent are “somewhat willing” to maintain physical distance unless it involves family from the same household.

There is also widespread support for small public gatherings: 84 per cent of Canadians accept public gatherings of no more than eight people, while 82 per cent support use of public parks so long as there is no sports, games, or use of children’s play areas, and physical distancing is maintained.

The majority of Canadians, 81 per cent, support wearing a mask at barber shops, salons and nail shops, and 80 per cent said they’re willing to abide by elevator rules that would see only three people ride at once while all are wearing masks.

Masks are popular: 74 per cent say they’d be OK with having to wear a mask to enter a store, and 65 per cent say they would accept mask-wearing any time they’re out of their home (33 per cent are very willing; and 32 per cent are somewhat willing.)

And, while a high percentage of Canadians are willing to have businesses screen their body temperature (74 per cent), just 57 per cent of Canadians  would tolerate random COVID-19 testing by public health officials.

a small clock tower in the background:  A physical distancing sign at the construction site on Parliament Hill during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, April 20, 2020. © Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/FIle A physical distancing sign at the construction site on Parliament Hill during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, April 20, 2020.

Fifty-three per cent of Canadians would be willing (24 per cent are “very willing,” 29 per cent are “somewhat willing”) to have a phone app that asks about your health and submits results to health officials. Even fewer people — 50 per cent — would tolerate an app that registers your phone and tracks your movements to notify you if you’ve come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

These figures are pulled down, the survey says, by reticent Albertans, with 39 per cent saying they’d be willing to submit to random health questions on an app; and 44 per cent tolerating tracking of their movements.

The poll surveyed 1,513 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of maru/BLUE’s online panel on May 6, 2020, and is accurate within +/- 2.9 percentage points.

• Email: tdawson@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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