Clear Strategy Company has been running an online survey researching the perceptions and anxiety levels among South Africans since the 17th of March, 10 days before lockdown. More than 21 500 people have participated in the study until today.
Since the 16th March, the general anxiety level regarding the Covid-19 virus has fluctuated on a daily basis in a 5% band, around the 67% mark. On a weekly basis, general anxiety has increased very slightly. Our research indicates most of the respondents complied with the actions recommended to limit the risk of contracting the virus. They have changed their behaviour and adhered to social distancing rules and hygiene practises (>95% compliance).They also commented that these practises would be maintained long after the lockdown.
The anxiety caused by the financial and economic situation of respondents is consistently higher than the anxiety in response to the virus. Financial anxiety has increased again recently. Although a lot of support is on offer to SMME’s, many of the employers indicated they have not yet applied for various reasons including: they don’t think they qualify; they don’t need assistance yet; they do not want an interest-bearing loan. From employees’ comments, employers are doing their best to communicate to their employees and are trying to help and support them. Still employees are anxious.
Among other things, we are tracking perceptions and opinions regarding actions taken by the government to limit the spread of Covid-19. People overwhelmingly thought that the government had done the right thing and that the lockdown was the correct course of action.
On the question, “I think government acted quickly to try to curb COVID-19”, around 70% felt that government acted quickly at lockdown and this is still the perception 25 days into the lockdown.
Initially they were less certain, but generally positive that the actions would curb the spread of Covid-19. This measure has fluctuated in a 20% band. At lockdown 60% agreed that government plans are going to curb the spread of COVID-19. Recently, people are increasingly doubtful and this figure is now down to 45%.
More than 90% of the respondents indicated at lockdown that it was the correct course of action to take. Fewer people agree now, with 68% saying that it is the correct action to take. The detracters disagree with the lockdown for the following reasons: concerns about finances; crime and corruption; lack of freedom and the banning of cigarettes and alcohol.
Similarly, close to 90% of respondents agreed with the statement “The government is doing the right thing” at the start of lockdown. In spite of all the communication, support and plans communicated by the President and Ministers, fewer people agree that the government is doing the right thing now. Less than 60% reacted positively on the 21st of April, this was the day building up to the latest address by the president regarding more financial support, time will tell if this will lead to an increase in support.
A notable trend is the growing number of people that think this is all “nonsense and unnecessary”. More people, close to 30%, now indicate that this is the case. This number is up from 6% at the start of the lockdown.
Today the President will outline the government’s plan to ease the lockdown and reopen the economy, we will continue to monitor South Africans’ reactions.