The willingness of members of the public to follow the confinement measures voluntarily is dwindling, according to a study being carried out by the university of Ghent.
The so-called “motivation barometer” polls people on their willingness to follow rules on staying at home, avoiding non-essential travel, keeping a social distance from others and working from home where possible.
When the lockdown started, 80.7% of people said they would willingly follow the instructions, regardless of any possible fine or other sanction.
In the latest poll, however, that figure has gone down to 55.4%.
“The decline is quite gradual, with some notable accelerations in the decline,” the study reports. “For example, there appears to have been a greater decline at the beginning of the Easter holidays and in the wake of the security councils of April 15 and April 24.”
There was also a marked increase after April 7, the day the crisis centre refined certain measures, such as allowing older people to rest on a park bench, the researchers said.
The team is now asking the government to offer the public motivation and inspiration, in an attempt to bring people together. “Without sufficient high-quality motivation, the population will start to ignore the measures.”
The meeting of the national security council last Friday offered some hope of a relaxation of some of the measures, but not enough to significantly reverse the decline in motivation, the team said.
“The government offered some prospect of an exit, but the measures were conditional. Last weekend, the population undoubtedly also realised that this corona crisis and the accompanying strict measures could last for a very long time. Because we cannot meet family in the short term, our commitment suffered an immediate fall. We feel more caged than ever.”
The survey also showed a significant increase in anxiety and depressive complaints since last weekend.
“The results of the motivation barometer show that we are at a difficult time in the marathon. The kilometres weigh on us and the finish seems suddenly far away,” the latest episode of the study concludes.
“The question of how painful the next kilometres will be raises fear and uncertainty and makes us doubt whether we will make it to the finish. Whether this is only a temporary dip or a downward trend is not clear. It is clear that we are at a psychological pivotal moment in the marathon and that the population would benefit from a motivating and inspiring government: a government with a clear vision, clear principles that everyone can support, and a connecting story.”