Relaxing coronavirus rules must not hit health service: survey

Photo: Alex Nicholls-Lee
Photo: Alex Nicholls-Lee

Dutch people believe that any relaxation of measures to control the coronavirus should be limited, in order to prevent the healthcare system becoming overstretched, according to research carried out by Delft University.

In total, over 26,000 people filled in the online survey form, in which participants were asked to choose between options. The results were also compared with the results of the same survey which involved a representative sample of almost 4,000 people.

‘If you permit people in contact professions, such as hairdressers, to return to work, it may be good for the economy, but the number of coronavirus infections will increase again,’ researcher Niek Mouter said. ‘By having to make the decision themselves, people gain an insight into the negative and positive consequences of different measures.’

The research found there is little support for a far-reaching relaxation of the rules that might cause the healthcare system to become heavily overloaded.

‘An interesting difference to note is that highly educated men on high incomes want to go relatively far in relaxing coronavirus measures, while older people on low incomes, who estimate that they themselves (or their immediate surroundings) run a high risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus are inclined to advise against the current restrictions,’ the researchers said.

Both surveys showed wide support for relaxing the ban on professions which involve physical contact with others, with many people saying this would prevent the bankruptcy of large numbers of small companies and self-employed people.

Allowing businesses other than the hospitality industry to open and family members who are not part of the same household to ditch the 1.5 metre rule completed the top three most popular moves.

There was little support for lifting more restrictions in the north of the country, where coronavirus is far less widespread, or for exempting people shown to be immune to the virus and the under-25s.

In the online survey of 3,400 internationals, there was most support for introducing the wearing of face masks, followed by re-opening primary schools and lifting the ban on hairdressers and contact professions.

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