MaltaToday Survey | Coronavirus: Malta braced for restrictions to stay until end of summer

73.6% believe restrictions are ‘just right’ 

People are bracing themselves for restrictive measures to last until the end of summer despite the country’s success in containing COVID-19, a MaltaToday survey found. 

The survey was held before Health Minister Chris Fearne cautiously suggested some of the restrictions may start to be lifted in the coming weeks. 

The survey found that 44.9% of people expected the restrictive measures to stay in place until the end of summer, while 27.4% believed they will remain in force until the end of June. 

A smaller cohort (14.2%) were more pessimistic and expected the social distancing measures to last until the end of the year. A much smaller cohort was optimistic the restrictions will be lifted by the end of May. 

The health authorities have so far given no indication as to which measures may be lifted and when but have been warning that if these decisions cause infection numbers to rise again, restrictions will be re-introduced. 

Women were more likely than men to expect restrictions to last until the end of summer (49.3% of women versus 40.4% of men) but men were almost twice as likely to believe restrictions will last until year’s end (18.4% men versus 10% women). 

The overall trend is broadly reflected across all age groups, although the degree of those who believe restrictions will last until the end of summer varies from 50.3% among those aged 18-35 and 37.9% of those aged between 51 and 65. 

The end of summer deadline also emerges as the most likely across all regions. But Gozitans appear to be more pessimistic with a quarter of them predicting that restrictions will be in place until the end of the year. 

Restrictions are ‘just right’ 

Almost three quarters of people believe the social distancing measures introduced over the past weeks are “just right”, while a quarter think they are “too lenient”. Less than 2% believe they are “too strict”. 

The overall result is reflected across both sexes, across all age groups, regions and political allegiance. 

Among the elderly, who have been specifically targeted as a vulnerable group by the health authorities and asked to remain indoors, 87.5% believe the measures are “just right”. This contrasts with the working age population aged between 36 and 50, where 63.8% believe the restrictions were “just right”. However, this age group also has the strongest believers that the measures were “too lenient” (33.7%). 

On a political level, there is strong consensus that the restrictions are “just right” (74% among PL voters and 67.5% among PN voters). Nationalist voters tend to be more pessimistic with 30.4% believing the measures are too lenient, against 23.6% of Labour voters who think likewise. 

The PN had at the start of the pandemic clamoured for a complete lockdown before moderating its discourse. 

Restrictions were introduced gradually and today schools remain closed, hundreds of shops are kept shut, public gatherings of more than three people are banned and the elderly and the vulnerable are asked to remain inside and go out only to buy essential items. All travel to and from the island also remains shut.