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Poll: Broad support for tighter restrictions to curb epidemic

Helsinki region residents and over-65s said they had curtailed public outings more than other groups.

Sisäministeri Maria Ohisalo (vas), valtiovarainministeri Katri Kulmuni, pääministeri Sanna Marin, opetusministeri Li Andersson ja oikeusministeri Anna-Maja Henriksson hallituksen tiedotustilaisuudessa 20.2.2020.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin (middle) and other coalition leaders at a press conference on 20 March. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

A new Yle poll shows solid support for the measures introduced by Sanna Marin's government to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. According to the survey conducted early this week by pollster Taloustutkimus, 49 percent of 1,800-odd respondents said that government's recommendations and interventions have been appropriate and timely.

However 46 percent said that they would have liked to see the government impose even tighter restrictions. Just three percent said that they thought the current measures were overblown.

So far those measures include closing school facilities, encouraging remote work and prohibiting gatherings of more then 10 people until mid-April. Government was also said to be considering restricting movement to and from the Uusimaa region in southern Finland.

The survey suggested that the youngest (15 - 24-year-olds) and oldest respondents (65 - 79-year-olds) did not support additional restrictions as much as other groups. However the overall differences in attitudes to further limits among different age groups were not especially large.

Party affiliation linked to attitudes

While age did not appear to sway opinions to any significant degree, party backing revealed sharp divisions in attitudes to the situation, the poll suggested.

For example, it showed that 75 percent of Finns Party supporters said that they would like to see stricter policies from the government.

By contrast, 29 percent of Left Alliance backers said they favoured more stringent measures. Support for more limits was also low among Social Democratic Party faithful (32%) and Greens backers (34%). Centre Party supporters landed in the middle of either extreme with about 47 percent favouring more determined government intervention.

Taloustutkimus research director Juho Rahkonen noted that the Finns Party has consistently called for stricter measures in the current situation. He added that the survey results suggest that the crisis is becoming politicised.

"This is inevitable once people realise that there is no one single way to handle the crisis," he commented.

Nearly all respondents told the pollster that they had limited going out in public because of the pandemic. More than 80 percent said that they had cut down on public outings either a great deal or somewhat.

The survey suggested that people in the Helsinki region had curtailed public excursions more than residents in other areas, with over-65-year-olds making the biggest adjustments in that regard.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,805 respondents between 23 and 24 March for the survey. The margin of error was +/- two percentage points.

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