Coronavirus: over half of Europeans support restriction measures

Coronavirus: over half of Europeans support restriction measures
Credit: Belga

A majority of Europeans support the political measures taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), both by local governments and the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to a study.

Of the 7,500 people surveyed in seven European countries (Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, Great Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands), 61.6% believe that their country has reacted correctly to the pandemic. Only 16% do not support the measures taken, an academic study conducted by the German University of Hamburg published on Thursday shows.

"In principle, a uniform picture is emerging in Europe with broad popular support for the political measures already taken," said Jonas Schreyögg, Scientific Director of the Hamburg Centre for Health Economics and one of the authors of the study.

High approval ratings were given, in particular, to the decisions to not allow public events to take place (85%), to close borders (82.9%) and schools (80%).

"We found interesting results for two measures that were the subject of particularly intensive media discussion: the export ban on medical equipment, and the use of mobile data for tracking infected people," said Schreyögg, adding that the response noticeably varied country to country.

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The majority of respondents in Great Britain, France and Italy seemed to be in favour of an export ban on medical equipment such as masks. The explicit approval of a ban is slightly below half in Portugal (46%), Germany (45%) and the Netherlands (44%). In Denmark, only one in three people explicitly want an export ban on equipment.

For data tracking apps to identify people who have been in contact with infected people, the responses per country were even more varied. While less than half of the people in the Netherlands (42%), Denmark (47%) and Germany (49%) were in favour of such an app, Italy, which has been particularly hard hit by the virus, saw 85% not minding such an app, with 71% being actively in favour of one.

The main worry for people across Europe, is overburdening the health care system, followed by the economic implications, especially for small businesses, and a possible recession.

The fear of becoming unemployed is greatest in Italy and Portugal, and lowest in Germany. In all countries, respondents are concerned about how the pandemic might change people, with society becoming more selfish.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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