CORONAVIRUS

Most Spaniards support a second home lockdown, according to new poll

A survey conducted for EL PAÍS shows that 71% of respondents believe coronavirus restrictions aimed at protecting health should be prioritized over the economy

Pedestrians walk down Madrid’s Gran Vía avenue in September.
Pedestrians walk down Madrid’s Gran Vía avenue in September.Olmo Calvo

The majority of Spaniards (six in 10) would support a second home lockdown if it was needed to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a survey by pollster 40dB commissioned by EL PAÍS. During the first wave of the pandemic, the Spanish government introduced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with residents confined to their homes and only allowed out for essential business. In the past few weeks, with infections rising in some territories, several regional authorities called on the central government to authorize home lockdowns in areas with dangerously high incidence rates of the virus. But the Health Ministry has ruled out such a move, arguing that the measures allowed under the current state of alarm, such as the curfew and restrictions on movement, are enough to lower contagions.

The new poll, however, shows that 61.2% of Spaniards would agree with a second home confinement if it was needed to contain the pandemic. The survey, based on interviews with 2,000 people, also found that 72% of respondents believe that measures aimed at controlling the pandemic should be prioritized, even if they hurt the economy.

The poll results reflect a country that is weary of the pandemic – respondents follow less news about the coronavirus and are more pessimistic about the post-pandemic future – but willing to make sacrifices. Most respondents said they had changed their habits to help flatten the curve: they go out less often and do not socialize as much.

The survey was conducted between October 30 and November 6 when coronavirus cases were rising in almost every part of the country. The curve had not yet started to stabilize – it was not until after November 9, when the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants reached 529, that cases began to fall. The incidence rate as of last Friday stands at 498.

The poll was carried out after the central government declared another national state of alarm on October 26 – which was later extended for six months – giving the regions the legal framework they need to restrict mobility. When respondents were asked whether they would support a home lockdown, the option was being considered by several regions. Although it appears less likely now, given the improved data, it cannot be ruled out. Only last week, Castilla y León asked the central government to authorize a home lockdown in the city of Burgos due to the spike in cases in the area. But, as with other similar requests, it was rejected by the Health Ministry.

The survey responses varied greatly depending on a respondent’s political affiliation. For example, 48% of voters of the far-right party Vox said that the economy should be prioritized, even if this jeopardized public health, compared to 14.6% of supporters of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and 10.8% of the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos.

Vox voters also opposed a second home lockdown more than the supporters of all other political groups. While most respondents said they are “very” or “quite” in agreement with the need for a second lockdown (25.8% and 35.4%, respectively), the majority of Vox voters were against the measure. The inverse was true for supporters of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, which make up Spain’s coalition government.

Change of habits

The survey also asked respondents about how the coronavirus pandemic had affected their lives and habits. On the scale of 0 to 10 – with 0 signifying “you have to live, with the necessary precautions, I try to change my habits and behavior as little as possible” and 10 signifying “I have stopped doing many things, I leave the house and socialize as little as possible” – 25% marked 10. The average was 6.7, and more than 80% of respondents marked above five.

According to the survey, the activities that Spaniards were most unwilling to give up were social gatherings with friends and family (40.8%), being able to go outside (36.2%), celebrations (24.3%) and traveling for pleasure (17.9%).

When asked about how closely they followed coronavirus restrictions, respondents ranked their compliance 8.9 out of 10 but put others’ respect for measures at 5.4 on average – a cognitive bias typical of self-assessment. Six in 10 said the rules introduced by the central government were unclear or not clear at all, a figure that dropped to five in 10 in the case of measures applied by the regional government. Madrid was the exception: 75% of respondents in this region said the administration’s rules were confusing.

In general, the respondents replied that the most useful measures for preventing the coronavirus (the use of face masks, hand-washing and proper ventilation) were the most important. But 75% also believed that airport controls were “very necessary” – a measure whose effectiveness is still being debated by epidemiologists. Despite this, airport controls were seen as more necessary than wearing a mask in indoor spaces (73%). From November 23, Spain will require all travelers from high coronavirus risk areas to present a negative PCR test.

The changes in daily life are taking a toll on people’s mental health. Some 18.4% of respondents said there have been more conflicts in their home, while 48.5% said they had experienced or suffered more of stress, insomnia, anxiety or nervousness.

According to the survey, 38.5% of respondents had postponed or canceled a medical test or visit out of fear of contracting the coronavirus, and 54% due to the stretched services of primary healthcare centers and hospitals. In total, 30.6% said that this had had a negative impact on their health.

The poll also found that 3.9% of the Spanish population over 18 years of age had tested positive for the coronavirus in the last few months, a figure that matches the total number of infections reported by the Health Ministry. Of the respondents who had not tested positive, 42% said they were very worried about catching the disease, and 32% said they were quite worried.

Growing pessimism

The morale of Spaniards is dampening with every month the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. According to the poll, 61.4% feel more pessimistic and disheartened by the situation. This feeling appears to have grown since the beginning of the health crisis in March, when the large majority of people believed that Spain would come out of the pandemic as a stronger, more community-minded and less fearful country. Now in November, the percentages are practically inverse.

What’s more, 56.6% believe that the crisis will increase the inequality between generations, a figure that rises to nearly 80% with respect to economic inequality. Most of the respondents, however, said that gender inequality will remain the same.

The impact of the pandemic on the Spanish economy will be negative and long-lasting, according to 79.7% of respondents. Another 15.7% believe that the health crisis will have a negative effect but believe this will be passing. The perception of how the pandemic will affect the Spanish economy is much more pessimistic than when respondents are asked about the impact on their own household finances. In this case, only 33.6% believe the impact will be negative and long-lasting, while 27.9% believe that the effect will be negative by temporary.

In other words, Spaniards are becoming more optimistic about their own financial situation and more pessimistic about the national economy. In April, 69.9% believed the impact would be negative and long-lasting. In contrast, the percentage of Spaniards who said the pandemic had hardly impacted their finances has risen from 16% in March, to 21.1% in April and 29.2% in November.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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