A sizable majority of Americans have opposed the reopening of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses, which were locked down due to the coronavirus restrictions put in place to contain the virus, fearing that the health crisis is not yet over and many people may still get infected by the fast-spreading contagion, a US-based survey has found.
According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, conducted between April 28 to May 3 among random samples of 1,005 adults, about half of the states in the US have eased restrictions on businesses, but Americans' unease about patronising them represents a major hurdle to restarting the economy.
Many Americans have been making trips to grocery stores and 56 per cent say they are comfortable doing so. But 67 per cent say they would be uncomfortable shopping at a retail clothing store, and 78 per cent would be uncomfortable eating at a sit-down restaurant. People in states with looser restrictions report similar levels of discomfort as those in states with stricter rules, the survey said.
Americans continue to give negative marks to their President Donald Trump for his response to the outbreak, while offering widely positive assessments of their state governors, a trend that has been consistent throughout the pandemic.
Trump's ratings are 44 per cent positive and 56 per cent negative, in line with where he was two weeks ago and only slightly worse than a week ago. Meanwhile, state governors earn positive marks from 75 per cent of Americans, about the same as a week ago, the survey said.
"Partisan differences remain sizable, with nearly eight in 10 Republicans but just about two in 10 Democrats rating Trump positively. In contrast, governors earn big positive majorities across the parties," it added.
In announcing plans to ease the restrictions on businesses, governors have emphasised that their actions represent a gradual and cautious reopening of their economies. Nonetheless, when asked about eight different types of businesses, namely gun stores, dine-in restaurants, hair salons, clothing stores, and gyms, majorities of Americans say they oppose ending the restrictions on each of the eight, the poll suggested.
The most significant opposition is to reopen movie theatres, with 82 per cent of Americans saying they should not be allowed to open up in their state. There is also broad opposition to reopening gyms (78 per cent opposed), dine-in restaurants and nail salons (both with 74 per cent opposed), according to the results of the poll.
Gun stores are next, with 70 per cent saying they should not be reopened, followed by barbershops and hair salons (69 per cent opposed) and retail shops such as clothing stores (66 per cent opposed) and golf courses (59 per cent opposed).
Opposition to opening businesses is just about as high in the states that have loosened restrictions so far as states with stricter restrictions.
The push to reopen has been driven by Trump and largely by Republican governors. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly oppose opening all types of businesses, while the Republicans range from mostly in favour of opening (61 per cent for golf courses) to mostly opposed (59 per cent for dine-in restaurants), the survey said.
Also, the poll noted gender gap especially being notable on the reopening of most of the businesses listed, with men more supportive than women in most cases. Fifty-six per cent of men oppose allowing gun shops to open, a view held by 82 per cent of women. For restaurants and nail salons, only about a fifth of women say they should be open, compared with about one-third of men. About a quarter of women say retail shops, barbershops and hair salons should be opened, compared with four in 10 men.
States are at different points in the cycle of the virus, with some appearing to be past the peak and others still experiencing growth in the pace of infections. Asked their impressions of where their own communities stand in relation to the curves, 31 per cent say the worst is behind them. Another 30 per cent say the worst is happening now, while 38 per cent say the worst is yet to come.
Over 70,000 people have succumbed to the infection in the country while 1.23 million others have tested positive so far, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.