When the second wave of Covid-19 hit Switzerland, the population was more pessimistic than it was in spring, according to a new survey released on Friday.
This content is published on 06 November 2020 – 17:00
06 November 2020 – 17:00
The collapse of the hospital system, the economic situation, increased social conflict, loss of social ties and solidarity: according to Sotomo’s latest survey on the coronavirus in Switzerland, all these subjects are of greater concern to residents than during a similar opinion survey conducted in March.
“The general attitude no longer sees the corona virus crisis as an adventure, but rather a burden,” said Michael Hermann from the Sotomo Institute. The organization has conducted several online surveys, periodically, to assess how public opinion views the government’s management of the pandemic, and the impact of Covid-19 on society.
The poll released on Friday is the fifth since March. It was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SSR), the holding company of SWI swissinfo.ch.
The health situation has deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks. With more than 1,193 cases per 100,000 population over a 14-day period (figures as of 6 November), Switzerland is now one of the countries in the world with the highest incidence.
Asked about their personal fears, 55% of respondents said they fear restrictions on individual freedom due to health measures being taken to fight the virus.
Michael Hermann also expressed growing concern about social isolation (from 30% in June to 46% in October) and family conflicts. Polls show that the arrival of a second wave of the pandemic in October has also made residents more health conscious.
From opinion polls to polls, the prospect of being able to live again without boundaries is fading in Switzerland. More than 80% of those surveyed do not expect to return to normal before summer 2021, at the earliest.
A little more optimism for the economy
Swiss residents, on the other hand, care a little less about the economic situation, according to the survey. In October, the survey was rated as bad or very bad by 35% of those surveyed, compared to 57% in May and 44% in June. For Michael Hermann, this can be explained by the fact that the country experienced its first semi-detention period relatively well.
But “the mood in general is clearly deteriorating,” he said. “Mistrust, selfishness and aggressiveness seem to override values like solidarity and benevolence that we talked about during the first wave of infections last spring.”
Willingness to help and connect with others also decreased. The percentage of people ready to show solidarity was lower than in March, when the government closed public life for three months.
The researchers found differences between the three Swiss language areas, and noted that people aged 15 to 24 appeared to have more difficulties than those over 65.
Personal trust and responsibility
Personal responsibility appears to be of paramount importance to many respondents. According to Michael Hermann, wearing masks in places where the minimum distance cannot be observed was generally approved, even before the government declared it mandatory at the end of October.
A small majority of those questioned now also support implementing short lockdowns to stop the pandemic, even though the government and the economy have set goals to avoid “circuit breakers”.
For many informants, changes in the number of infections and hospitalizations were the main drivers of behavior change, not government policies. “The Swiss population does not wait for government orders,” explained Michael Hermann. “But he’s following the rules and he’s ready to adapt.”
Confidence in the government remains, even though it falls between April and October, as demonstrated by the preliminary results of Sotomo’s investigation released last week.
At the end of October, only 37% of those surveyed said they had great or enormous confidence in the Federal Council to tackle the crisis related to the pandemic. But that proportion rose to 44% a week after authorities announced new restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.
However, we are still far from the March figures, in which more than 60% of those questioned said they had either strong or very strong confidence in the government.
Another aspect highlighted in the study is the tendency of some respondents to think that the handling of the corona virus crisis in Switzerland is better than in other European countries. Despite the sharp increase in infections last month, 21% of respondents believe Switzerland is much better than others.
Michael Hermann saw in it “traces of Swiss patriotism.” “But the feeling of superiority has been shaken since June, when Interior Minister Alain Berset still proudly assured: ‘Switzerland can deal with the coronavirus'”.
The online survey was conducted among 42,425 people, across all linguistic areas of Switzerland.
It was carried out by the Sotomo Institute on behalf of the SSR between 23 October and 2 November.
The margin of error is +/- 1.1%.
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