jump to navigation

Attitudes to the lockdown June 2, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

If one were to believe columnists across a range of news media the public is desperately keen for restrictions to be lifted. And yet, and yet. Look at actual polling on this matter, most recently the RedC/SBP poll this last weekend and there are two responses that are of particular significance.

To the question whether people were concerned about a second peak only 20% were not and a full 77% were. Even more tellingly, on the question of whether they wanted to see restrictions lifted more quickly 31% did and 66% did not and more importantly were ‘happy with the current government roadmap’.

Given the near constant diet of vested interests and conservative columnists arguing for a lifting of the restrictions this has to count as a triumph of sorts. Yet it is backed up by other attitudinal polling throughout the crisis. To the extent that the risible argument by Mark Paul in the IT last week arrived at the conclusion that such attitudes were driven by fear and consequently (implicit to his line) they should be ignored. Of course there will be concern and indeed anxiety about this. But perhaps people having invested two months or so in the lockdown recognise that all this could be utterly wasted by removing restrictions too early. And perhaps people also aren’t quite as impressed by the faux-argument that life is so full of risk they just have to get out there for the sake of the economy.

And indeed yesterday came there this:

Meanwhile, a survey shows high levels of people who remain uncomfortable with returning to everyday activities like going to the cinema, travelling on public transport or even shopping.
The EY Future Consumer Index, which tracks consumer sentiment, found 78 per cent of people would be uncomfortable going to the cinema, 76 per cent with exercising in a gym and 74 per cent going to a bar.
Almost three out of every four people polled feel uncomfortable about travelling on public transport, while a majority of respondents also remain uncomfortable with the prospect of eating in restaurants, trying on clothes in a shop or going to a hairdresser.

People are naturally wary in the extreme of going back into those contexts without a real assurance that there is minimal risk (by the way, I was much taken by Michael O’Leary – incorrectly – asserting that face masks cut transmission by 98.5%. The actual estimated figure is 10-15% or so. But take that 98.5%. Would O’Leary be sanguine about a 98.5% likelihood that an aircraft would safely reach its destination? And although that’s a slightly distorted argument on my part, though arguably much less so than his distortion, it does point up the issue of ‘risk’ in these things. Easy to beat the chest and state one is ready for risk. But how much risk? If one were flying what is the risk one will accommodate… 1%, .1%, .01% etc? It’s worth considering the actual chances of such an accident to see how little risk is accommodated).

All that said the framing of the poll results itself is notable in the SBP. For example. their political editor Michael Brennan wrote:

…business groups have called for the relaxing of the two-metre social distancing rule and the end of the 14-day quarantine for those entering the country, the government is expected to hold firm on these measures for now.
It is …examining the possibility of easing other restrictions that would benefit the public at large. It comes as a Red C poll for the Business Post shows that 31 per cent of people want to see the lifting of restrictions happening more quickly.

And 66% do not. But again:

[This] comes as the latest Business/Post Red C poll shows that public opinion is starting to shift on the issue of how fast the Covid-19 restrictions should be lifted to reopen the economy.
Around 66 per cent of people say they are happy with the current government road map for reopening businesses and social activity. However, 31 per cent of people want to see the lifting of restrictions happening more quickly.

Amazing how that solid majority is rhetorically softened.

Similarly in the SBP’s editorial where under the headline ‘The Country is Ready to Reopen, Let’s get on with it’ it manages to question the findings of its own poll (and note the almost identical language with that in the report above).

There has been considerable public buy-in, so far, but it cannot be taken for granted. The latest … poll shows there is still a silent majority in favour of the current approach. Around 66 % of people say they are happy with the current government road map for reopening businesses and social activity.
However, 31 % of people want to see the lifting of restrictions happen more quickly. It is clear that people need to believe that the precautionary measures that remain in place for the months ahead are credible and have been engineered to ensure the best for all, including the economy and the businesses and workers who power it.

In fairness the editorial does attempt to apply some nuance, asking if there are alternatives to quarantine. And yet it does put its thumb on the scales as in the following where;

If the government is insisting on [the two-metre rule] remaining for now, then businesses need to know when that is going to change and what exactly they would need to have in place to convince public health officials that a more workable distance can still maximise safety.

If the science says two metres then perhaps it is up to business to live with that until a safer situation is arrived at.

Perhaps slightly comforting to read in the same report:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has privately warned ministers to stop questioning the two-metre social distancing limit, which is not expected to be changed when the cabinet meets this Friday to confirm the move to phase two of the road map.
Varadkar delivered his rebuke at cabinet last Friday after Minister for Rural Development Michael Ring and Minister of State Finian McGrath had publicly broken ranks with Dr Tony Holohan, the state’s chief medical officer, by calling for the two-metre social distancing rule to be changed.
“Not much point in seeking expert advice if it’s to be ignored,” one minister said.

But amazing that we need an FG government to hold the line.


1. NFB - June 2, 2020

I wonder how newspaper sales have gone in the last few months?

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2020

They too are a vested interest!


EWI - June 3, 2020

The far bigger vested interest for the Irish Times is in the property market, whether through MyHome.ie (which they won) or all those lucrative, almost pornographic, property ads which they put out on Thursdays (the role of the IT in creating and sustaining Irish property bubbles is ‘under-explored’, as they say).


EWI - June 3, 2020

(Own, not ‘won’)


oliverbohs - June 2, 2020

Do business types reckon on people having enough cash burning a hole in their pockets the past three months that two or three weeks of spending upon reopening wd be worth it, even if everyone holds onto their money subsequently, or just runs out? If they are so keen to get people spending moreover, why aren’t they lobbying for the Covid 19 payment to stay as is for the rest of the year? (Maybe they are and I am unaware of it, in that case I shall be using this site to requote and retweet hot takes from Danny McCoy, Bertie Ahern, Dermot Desmond, or any other deep thinker)

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 3, 2020

When you put it that way I dont think there is any long term thinking at all on this. It’s just hope based on nothing


oliverbohs - June 4, 2020

Acc to RTÉ IBEC want an extension to the pandemic payments to at least October or even longer. 😃 But let’s not get too carried away:
“The Director of Employer Relations with Ibec has said Ireland is lagging behind our European neighbours in terms of getting businesses open”.
That is such a dumb take in and of itself. They know full well why so. They know that a firm majority of Irish people are fine with that.
Since the election, the utterances from Lower Baggot Street have been intriguing, as if the CEO of Lupine & Co. had announced an initiative they were sponsoring to get more young girls into exploring forests

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 4, 2020

“Since the election, the utterances from Lower Baggot Street have been intriguing, as if the CEO of Lupine & Co. had announced an initiative they were sponsoring to get more young girls into exploring forests’

That’s brilliant, and so true.


2. Wiki Man Dave - June 2, 2020

As you’ve said before, lots of people blaming lockdown for the economy’s woes will be in for a rude awakening when they realise that you cant make people buy stuff and do things.

Obviously lockdown cant last forever but I’d be alot more comfortable with re-opening as planned if people wore masks in indoor public spaces as a matter of routine. We’re far from there yet. That the government has only taken the most tentative steps on changing this deserves to count big against them.

And I cant see pubs reopening as not leading to disaster.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2020

In a way I was surprised how robust the polling numbers were. Do you think that might soften some coughs from FF etc?


Wiki Man Dave - June 2, 2020

Youd hope so. Makes him look adjacent to Trump and Johnson. Not a good look here.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2020


Liked by 1 person

NFB - June 2, 2020

Well that’s the “people are being needlessly frightened” angle that we’ve already seen. I wonder if the same newspapers will be so gung-ho in their criticism of the government if an election looms and SF stand to gain?


WorldbyStorm - June 2, 2020

Heheh, yeah, that’ll be interesting to see.


3. benmadigan - June 2, 2020

Businesses and some politicians jumping on the “open up now” bandwagon are so concerned about whether they can re-open, they aren’t stopping to think as to whether they should, whether they’ll have customers and whether it’s worth their while investing in re-opening.

I explored the topic here with reference to England, but the issues are the same everywhere.


Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: