In Europe, Self-Reported Mask Usage is Driven by Regulation

July 7, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Coronavirus | Coronavirus Restrictions | European Politics | Health

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In the latest polls conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, public opinion on current regulation on mask usage has been similar across France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, despite differences in rules and regulations across these countries. The majority (68% to 76%) approved of their government’s current rules, and a majority ranging from 61% to 78% of respondents also agreed that the rules are easy to understand. France had the lowest support out of the four countries for current mask regulation with 68% of respondents approving of the rules and 61% agreeing they were easy to understand. Nonetheless, despite these being the lowest rates of support across all four countries, they nonetheless reflect that a strong majority of respondents is supportive.

Since the legislation in question varies from country to country, it is possible that respondents could think that their government’s rules are either too strict or not strict enough. France’s rules, for example, are the most relaxed out of the four countries, only requiring masks on public transport, but they have the lowest public approval. Given that the majority of French respondents (54%) believe that their government’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic fell short, it seems that discontent with current rules comes from a desire for stricter measures.

In Germany, regulation is set at the state level with the majority of states requiring face masks in shops, restaurants and on public transport. Respondents across regions averaged a 71% approval rating. Italy requires masks in shops and on public transport across the nation and had 69% of respondents approving of the rules. Spain has the most stringent laws, requiring masks in all open air and enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible. With 76% of respondents approving, Spain has the highest support of the rules, suggesting that the public across these European countries would prefer stricter face mask regulation.

While the approval rates vary slightly across the countries, reported usage of masks has a much wider range also in correlation to mask legislation. Spain has the strictest legislation and the highest reported mask usage with 63% of respondents reporting to always wear a mask when leaving home and only 1% of respondents reporting to never wearing a face mask.

Italy comes second in reported mask usage with 56% of respondents reporting to always wear one when leaving home and only 3% of respondents reporting to never wear one. France and Germany are close to each other for reported usage with only 31% and 27% reporting to always wear one when leaving the house respectively. 10% of French respondents reported to never wearing a mask in public, which is far lower than Germany’s 23% of respondents reporting to never wear one.

A particular instance where legislation was helpful in increasing reported usage was in supermarkets. Spain, Italy, and Germany (which all require the use of face masks in supermarkets) saw higher reported usage of masks in the supermarket at 80 %, 76%, and 82% respectively, which was significantly higher than France at 52%, where a face mask is not required in supermarkets.

European mask usage still lags far behind Asia, where masks were commonplace even before the coronavirus outbreak. For example, in a poll conducted in Hong Kong by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on the 7th of June, 84% of respondents report to always wear a mask when leaving home and only 2% of respondents report to never wear one.

The US is also ahead of some of the European countries, namely Germany and France, for reported mask usage with 60% of respondents reporting to always wear a mask when they leave home and 11% of respondents reporting to not wear one at all in a poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on the 8th and 9th of June. Rules vary by state, with most states requiring masks on public transport and other enclosed areas but some even requiring a face covering when outside. [1]

As European countries reopen their economies, there is still room for improvement in terms of mask usage, which is critical if future flare ups are to be avoided. The public of these four European countries are overwhelmingly in favour of current mask regulations and may even welcome stricter rules as normal routines resume.

[1] Answer codes differ slightly

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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