As restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 persist, a new binational survey suggests more than half of Americans and Canadians find it stressful to venture out in public.
In the weekly web survey conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, 57% of respondents said leaving their home for a public space caused anxiety.
While the figures were relatively consistent across Canada, they reached a high of 64% in Ontario and a low of 48% in Alberta. In comparison, 64% of American respondents said they found it somewhat or very stressful to go out in public during the pandemic.
Americans were also approximately twice as likely as Canadians to think their state and federal government should accelerate the pace at which they are relaxing social distancing/self-isolation measures.
The survey was conducted May 8-11 among 1,526 Canadians and 1,004 Americans, 18 or older, who were randomly recruited from an online panel. Since polls created from Internet panels are not random samples, however, the survey can't be assigned a margin of error.
The polling firm said that using data from the 2016 census, results were weighted according to age, gender, mother tongue, region, level of education and presence of children in the household in order to ensure a representative sample of the population.
Forty-three per cent of Canadians who took part found going out in public somewhat stressful, while 13% considered it very stressful. The figures do not correspond to the sum of 57% due to rounding.
Ten per cent of men who responded found going out very stressful, compared with 17% of women.
The vast majority of Canadians who took part said they were following advice to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus by maintaining a safe distance of two meters from others, washing their hands more often, coughing or sneezing into their elbow and going out only for necessities.
In addition, 42% of Canadians surveyed said they wore a protective mask when they did head out to public areas in the last week and 51% said people outside their family had gotten within two metres of them over the last seven days.
More Americans, however, were either very or a little fearful of contracting the virus (65%), compared to 55% of Canadians.
The vigilance needed to maintain one's personal space in public is likely a factor in the stress people are feeling, said Leger Executive Vice President Christian Bourque.
"Every time I go out grocery shopping, which I do because it's a necessity, somebody wants to pick the same avocados I'm looking at," he said. "There's always somebody in your bubble at some point, even though we try to do our best."
Asked how long it would take for the economy in their province to start getting back to normal, with commercial activity and jobs being created at a level before the pandemic hit, 14% said about 6-8 months from now, 24% about a year and 30% 1-2 two years.
Asked whether a COVID-19 vaccine, once available, should be mandatory or voluntary, Americans were about split, while 61% of Canadians said it should be mandatory compared to 31% who said it should be voluntary.
Particularly interesting were responses to the question, "To what extent do you trust the following?" Number 1 by both Candaians and Americans was health officials. About half the respondents trust heal officials "a lot" and half "somewaht trust" them. At the bottom of the list was President Trump. Only 11% expressed any level of trust in him.