Australians mask up as economic pessimism rises

Share this


Some seven out of 10 Australians (71%) now say they would probably or definitely wear a mask to protect against coronavirus where social distancing was difficult and it was recommended by the chief medical officer. Our 20th tracking survey also shows the situation in Melbourne and in NSW hotspots is continuing to heighten virus concerns, while propelling public concern about the economy to its highest level since March.

Among prompted concerns, 80% are “extremely” or “quite concerned” about the virus, up another two points from last week and the sixth weekly increase, while 84% were concerned about the economy (up from 80% last week). There is also growing concern about Australia entering recession as well as increasing Government debt.

More than 1,900 people were surveyed on Mon 20 July – Wed 22 July, ahead of the Government’s two landmark announcements revealing the nation’s looming $852 billion debt and confirming it will extend JobKeeper payment until next April at a reduced rate. While the debt may create further jitters, the JobKeeper decision should be well-received: this survey shows clear support for extending JobKeeper (60%, up from 46% three weeks ago).

Face masks and lockdown

The vast majority of Australians and Victorians support the Melbourne lockdowns in particular, and around four in five support compulsory face masks. At the same time, there has been an increase in the actual wearing of masks: more than a quarter of Australians (26%) now report they have worn a mask. Only 10% would “definitely” or “probably” not wear one.

Tough border restrictions an increasing priority 

There were continued significant declines in support for the border with New Zealand to be opened within three months (46%, down from 53% last week) and for all state borders to be opened in this timeframe (48%, down from 60% last week).

More working from home and social distancing

This week has seen an increase in the number of workers who are working from home at least one day a week (53%, up from a study low of 48% last week) suggesting the resurgence of the virus has led to a reversal of recent attempts by many to go back into the workplace.  More people are also staying home more than usual (48%, compared to 38% two weeks ago) and avoiding all non-essential contact (49%, up from 41% two weeks ago).

Government’s performance remains strong

Most continue to agree that the restrictions are fair and reasonable (79%). There has also been an increase in those who agree government is taking appropriate measures to support Australian businesses (72% up from 68% last week).

Strong concerns about AFL Grand Final at the MCG

In a further blow for sports-mad Melburnians, the Gabba, Adelaide Oval and Optus Oval are all seen as being more appropriate venues to hold crowds for this year’s AFL Grand Final.

The research also indicated that if the Grand Final was to proceed at the MCG then nearly half (46% across Australia and 41% of Victorians) believe there should be no crowd and another 38% believe the crowd should be limited to 30,000.

Share this