Coronavirus (COVID-19): public attitudes and behaviours - April update

Findings from polling work, conducted between September 2021 and January 2022, on public attitudes and behaviours around the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland.

Key points

This report draws together findings on key indicators from polling work on public behaviours and attitudes to the Coronavirus pandemic in Scotland. It details how some of the elevated concerns and impacts on wellbeing have persisted even as restrictions have eased. This period covers two major waves of COVID-19: the summer/autumn peak and then the rapid spread of Omicron variant in December.[1]

  • Loneliness has remained high throughout September to January, with just under half (between 45% and 49%) of respondents saying that they felt lonely at least some of the time. Anxiety has also remained high, with around a third reporting themselves as 'highly anxious'.
  • This period saw an increase in the proportions who were worried about the effect of the ongoing pandemic on their mental health.
  • Worry about the effects of the pandemic on jobs and the economy has remained high. There is growing concern about personal finances, with an increase in those who are concerned that they won't be able to pay their bills a month from now, or provide for their household.
  • In terms of public support in the Scottish Government's handling of the pandemic, from September through to January, around half of respondents agreed that they support the way the pandemic is being handled, with under 3 in 10 (15-27%) disagreeing.
  • Throughout this time period, around half (45%-54%) of respondents agreed that they trust the Scottish Government to decide when and how it's best to lift and re-impose restrictions.
  • Perceived importance of COVID-19 protective measures, such as wearing a face covering and washing hands, has remained high. However, fewer respondents reported that they were doing these protective behaviours 'very' or 'fairly' well, particularly with opening windows/doors and meeting outdoors where possible. Yet, adherence with protective behaviours broadly remained high and stable.
  • There is a split between people who think we need broad guidance around COVID-19 protective behaviours and those who think we need formal regulations. At mid-January, the majority (75%) accepted that some protective measures will still be needed as we continue to live with COVID-19. Just under half of respondents (49%) thought we just need broad guidance going forwards rather than detailed rules and regulations.
  • The public are worried about impacts on businesses and the NHS. In December and January 2022, around 7 in 10 (67%-71%) were worried about the negative impact of Omicron on businesses and services and 6 in 10 (61%) were worried that the NHS would not be able to cope with the increased demand.
  • Testing for COVID-19 increased over the winter period, with the highest reported testing in January 2022. Over the two-week festive season, over half of respondents (57%) said they had taken a COVID-19 test on at least some occasions before meeting with others.
  • In September, over 4 in 10 (42%) parents/guardians with children aged 17 and under reported they were worried about their children's mental health.



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