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Three months after COVID-19 pandemic declared, Canadians express ‘fatigue’, are social distancing less

With the advent of summer mere days away, public health officials expressing concern that Canadians are flagging in their vigilance towards social distancing and other public health measures may have good reason to worry.

The latest study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds a significant number of Canadians now less stringent about following certain behaviours aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Indeed, just 36 per cent of Canadians now say they are staying away from public spaces as much as they were in the early days of the outbreak, while 56 per cent are continuing to keep extra space from others as much as they were earlier this spring, despite it being one of the key aspects in preventing community transmission of the disease.

This comes as Canadians are most likely to report that they have been feeling “fatigued” (31%) and “anxious” (28%) over the last few weeks.

And as COVID-19 infection rates have continue to trend downward, the number of Canadians who say they are worried about contracting the virus has dropped from a peak of 73 per cent in early April to below half (46%). That said, concerns about community transmission and the infection of friends or family members remain well above majority level.

The biggest challenge for public health officials may be connecting with younger Canadians. Those in the 18- to 34-year-old cohort are least likely to be following recommended advice and much less likely to voice personal concern over becoming sick.

More Key Findings:

  • Two-in-five Canadians (41%) say the worst of the health effects in Canada are yet to come. The majority (59%) feel that the country has made it through the most difficult time in terms of illness.
  • Those under 55 years of age are much more likely to feel worn out or fatigued than older Canadians. Women 18 to 54 are most likely to feel anxious, while men 55 and over are most likely to feel optimistic.
  • Ontario residents are most likely to say they’re keeping up with social distancing (64%) just as much as they were in earlier weeks of the pandemic.

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