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News - All - 8 Sep 2020

News Item 11 of 4738 

Miscellaneous: 8 Sep 2020
Most Ontarians support another lockdown if COVID-19 cases spike, poll finds

Three-quarters of Ontarians would support a return to “stay-at-home” measures if COVID-19 cases skyrocket as they did last spring, a new poll suggests.

The Campaign Research survey for the Star found 74 per cent back a lockdown should coronavirus infections continue to increase toward levels last seen in April, while 15 per cent were opposed and 12 per cent were unsure.

“The public is very concerned about the impact of another outbreak on our health-care system’s capacity,” Campaign Research principal Nick Kouvalis said Tuesday.

Kouvalis, who has worked with Conservative and Liberal candidates across Canada and managed the winning Toronto mayoral campaigns of John Tory and Rob Ford, said he was not surprised by the findings.

“All the research we’ve done since the pandemic began in March has clearly shown that Ontarians want to do their part by quarantining, maintaining social distance, washing hands, wearing masks, and so on,” he said.

Campaign Research surveyed 1,129 people across Ontario last Wednesday and Thursday using Maru Blue’s online panel. It is an opt-in poll, but for comparison purposes, a random sample of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The firm found that nearly half of respondents — 47 per cent — felt the recent uptick in cases means Ontario should return to Stage 2 of reopening, so restaurants and bars would not be allowed to offer indoor service and gyms should close.

But 41 per cent believed the province should remain in the current Stage 3 while 12 per cent weren’t sure.

“There’s a split — some people would be more willing than others to go back to Stage 2,” said Kouvalis.

Ontarians are also divided as to what the public health threshold should be for returning to Stage 2.

About a quarter — 26 per cent — said the bar should be 100-200 new cases daily for a week while another 26 per cent said it should be 200-300 new cases. Eight per cent said 300-400, four per cent said 400-500, two per cent said 500-600, and one per cent said more than 800.

But 18 per cent said the number of cases “doesn’t matter” as long as there are hospital beds available for those who have severe symptoms and need medical attention. Thirteen per cent weren’t sure.

On Tuesday, Ontario reported 185 new cases, but only 54 people in hospital with coronavirus, 17 of whom were in intensive care. There were 20,929 COVID-19 tests conducted.

At the height of the pandemic, on April 24, there were 640 new cases with 910 people in hospital, 243 in ICU. There were 12,295 tests done that day.

More than two-thirds of poll respondents — 68 per cent — agreed with the government’s summer decision to reopen restaurants while 20 per cent opposed that and 12 per cent weren’t sure.

But only 19 per cent believed bars should have reopened, with 70 per cent in opposition and 11 per cent unsure.

Only about a third — 37 per cent — felt gyms should have been allowed to open again, with 48 per cent opposed and 14 per cent not sure.

There remains strong support for wearing masks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Almost seven out of eight Ontarians — 86 per cent — believe masks should be mandatory indoors, with 11 per cent opposed and 3 per cent unsure.

Similarly, 80 per cent believed people should wear masks outdoors in crowded places while 17 per cent did not and three per cent weren’t sure.

However, support drops when respondents were asked if masks should be mandatory everywhere — 61 per cent favoured that, 34 per cent opposed it, and the rest were unsure.

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Fully 83 per cent felt that preventative measures, such as wearing a mask, washing hands and maintaining safe physical distancing would allow the economy to remain open. Only 13 per cent disagreed that such actions would help and the remainder weren’t sure.

However, Ontarians are more divided as to whether the government is ready for a second wave. Half — 50 per cent — agreed Queen’s Park “has a solid plan to deal with it,” while 30 per cent disagreed and 20 per cent weren’t sure.

“It’s clear that the public is watching things closely,” said Kouvalis.

Robert BenzieQueen's Park Bureau Chief-The Record/AA

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