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

Just Posted

Delta artist John Horton named to Order of British Columbia

Honour for significant contributions made to the appreciation and safety of B.C.’s coastal history

Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society doing ‘better than we were expecting’ amid COVID-19

At one point, the board thought it might have a donation shortfall of $250,000

Man arrested in ‘after-hours club crackdown’ in Whalley, Surrey RCMP say

Police say they received information about clubs, parties ‘springing up’ at commercial properties

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Fraser Valley heritage house

Chilliwack heritage house makes 1.7-kilometre journey to new location

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read