The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are more worried about health rather than the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new poll has indicated.
lose to 70% of people surveyed are more worried about their health than finances, though nationalists are more worried about the health implications than unionists, the LucidTalk poll suggests.
The poll, conducted in partnership with the Belfast Telegraph, U105 FM and Northern Slant, also suggests that a large majority of people believe shutting bars and restaurants early will make no difference to the spread of the virus.
According to the poll, 67% of people are more concerned about health, as opposed to 27% who answered that the economy and finances are more important.
Respondents were asked what worries them more, the health impact of the coronavirus “on me and my family” – such as people becoming ill or dying – or the financial repercussions, including losing jobs.
“This is not surprising,” said pollster Bill White of LucidTalk.
“But for 27% to choose ‘Economy’ over ‘Health’, shows how worried a substantial number of people are about their jobs in Northern Ireland.”
The poll revealed differences between unionist and nationalist concerns.
“We see that unionists are much more concerned about the ‘Economy-Finance’ than nationalists/republicans – unionists score ‘Economy-Finance’ at 31%, and ‘Health’ at 61%, compared to nationalists/republicans who score ‘Economy-Finance’ at ‘only’ 18%, and ‘Health’ at 80%,” noted Mr White.
Responses from 1,961 residents in Northern Ireland were recorded, balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background.
Seventy-five percent of those who identified as neutral on the constitutional question, such as Alliance and Green Party supporters, said they were more concerned about health, with 19% stating financial.
Four percent said neither the financial nor the health impact of the coronavirus affects them.
Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 44% prioritised financial concerns, with 54% stating health.
Four fifths of those aged 65 and over were more concerned about their own and family members’ health.
Respondents were asked whether they think pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues closing at 11pm will reduce, increase or make no difference to the spread of the coronavirus.
Two thirds (67%) of those surveyed did not believe the curfew on pubs and restaurants would make any difference.
Just 17% believe it will reduce the spread of the virus.
And 13% believe the 11pm shutdown will actually increase the spread of the virus.
LucidTalk broke down respondents into what it describes as “working” and “middle” class – those in the socio-economic bands known as C2DE and ABC1.
According to the poll, 58% of people describing themselves as middle class do not believe the curfew will make a difference, compared to 73% of those with lower incomes.
“It’s not surprising that a large majority of the overall NI total results doesn’t think this restriction will make any difference to the virus rates either way,” Mr White said.
“If we look at the social-class analyses for this question we find that the ‘working class’ are much more doubtful that this restriction will have any impact on the spread of the virus.
“We see that 24% of Northern Ireland’s ‘middle class’ say this restriction will reduce the spread of the virus. This compares to ‘only’ 13% of the NI working class who think the same way.”
Around a quarter (24%) of those described as middle class in the survey believe the 11pm hospitality curfew will reduce the virus spread, while 15% said it would make no difference.
The same figures for those in the working class category were 13% and 10% respectively.