Australians have eased off the panic buying of groceries and are changing their behaviours to comply with social distancing rules in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. The latest Essential Research poll finds more people have limited their outings to social spaces, shops, restaurants and group events and stopped shaking hands or hugging people than a week ago.
About four-in-five of those surveyed are now sticking by the health advice to stay home unless strictly necessary and to keep 1.5 metres from others. Half have also cut down on their use of cash amid concerns money changing hands could be spreading the virus.
At the same time, the number of people who had bought extra groceries to stock their pantries dropped over the past week to less than two-in-five. Those in regional areas were less likely to be stocking up on food.
The survey also found most people think the economy will have a long, slow recovery rather than a quick snap back after a few months of most things being shut down. More than half said business was more likely to be depressed for six months or a year, then have a long, slow recovery. And just under a third more thought the coronavirus would have long-lasting economic impact that pushed Australia into a lengthy recession.
Younger people were slightly more likely to be optimistic about the recovery. After the government announced its A$1500 fortnightly wage subsidy scheme, almost a third of those surveyed said they would struggle with a short-term loss of income but would get by, and fewer people said they would have serious financial difficulties than did so a week ago.
Across the board there was increased trust in the information coming from the government and media and more confidence that people are being fully informed about the situation and what they should do.