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Poll Shows Social Distancing And Masks To Continue Despite COVID-19 Vaccination


A majority of adults said they are likely to continue socially distancing and wearing a mask in public even if they are vaccinated against COVID-19. However, confidence in returning to sporting events, eating in restaurants, flying and using public transport is mixed across countries.

These findings come from a new IPSOS/World Economic Forum survey that polled some 12,500 people. It was conducted between June 3-6, 2021, in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In each of these nine countries, more than 75% say that, assuming they have received a vaccine for COVID-19, they definitely will continue or may continue socially distancing from others in public places. Depending on the country, between six and eight in ten say they definitely will continue or may continue wearing a mask in public.

Genya Dana, Head of Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum said: “The spread of the delta variant is likely causing people to take a pause and proceed with caution. In this dynamic and changing public health situation it is even more important for trusted sources to be providing timely and locally relevant information.”

Levels of certainty about continued social distancing and mask-wearing in public places vary across countries:

  • More than half of those surveyed in Brazil and just under half in Italy, the U.K., France, Mexico, and Germany say they definitely will continue social distancing in public places, compared to only one-third in Japan and the U.S. The U.S. shows the highest proportion saying that they will not continue or haven’t been socially distancing pre-vaccination (22%).
  • Gaps are even wider when it comes to mask-wearing in public: 57% in Brazil say they definitely will continue, compared to 27% in Germany. Germany and the U.S. have the largest proportions saying they will not continue or haven’t been wearing a mask (32% both).

Confidence about returning to various activities

How soon one feels confident resuming different activities after having received a vaccine for COVID-19 varies widely by type of activity and by country. For most activities measured, confidence tends to be most prevalent in Mexico, followed by Spain, Italy, and France, and lowest in Japan.

For relatively common or frequent activities, proportions of those saying they would do so immediately or in a few months range from:

  • 59% in Japan to 82% in Italy for eating in restaurants,
  • 48% in the U.S. to 67% in Mexico for using public transit, and
  • 38% in Japan to 62% in Mexico for attending sports events or concerts.

When it comes to flying, proportions of those saying they would do so immediately or in a few months vary depending on both their home country and the destination. They range from:

  • 38% in Japan to 72% in Mexico for flying with one’s own country,
  • 24% in Japan to 68% in Mexico for flying to other countries where the vaccine is available, and
  • 17% in Japan to 52% in Mexico for flying to other countries where the vaccine is not yet available.

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