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Majority of Ontarians support lifting COVID-19 restrictions but half still plan to wear masks in public: poll

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More than 60 per cent of Ontarians support the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the province with some saying the move took too long, a new poll suggests.

The Angus Reid Institute surveyed 2,550 Canadian adults about their thoughts on the lifting of public health measures and the performance of their provincial leaders throughout the pandemic.

Of those quizzed, 61 per cent of Ontario residents said they supported the lifting of restrictions, with 35 per cent saying they were removed at the right time while the other 26 per cent said the province actually moved too slowly.

The remaining 39 per cent of respondents, however, said that restrictions are being removed too quickly.

But there was also significant support for the continuation of some public health measures, even as Ontario moves aggressively to lift all remaining restrictions.

In fact, a total of 75 per cent of Ontarians and 73 per cent of Canadians said that they support wearing a mask in public indoor spaces.

A further 67 per cent of Ontarians and 64 per cent of Canadians said that they support vaccine passports to enter non-essential settings while 61 per cent said that they support mandatory testing for individuals travelling internationally.

Meanwhile, the poll found mixed support for voluntarily continuing with some precautions, even after restrictions are lifted.

Approximately 56 per cent of respondents in Ontario said that they were likely or very likely to continue to wear a mask indoors around strangers while another 56 per cent said that they were likely or very likely to continue to avoid larger gatherings of people. Support was even higher for maintaining physical distancing (61 per cent) and regularly sanitizing your hands (65 per cent) as COVID precautions.

Nationally, support for wearing a mask in public places was higher for those ages 55 and up (80 per cent) as well as those who live in urban areas (75 per cent).

There was also a gender divide with 79 per cent of women and only 67 per cent of men expressing support for wearing masks in indoor public settings.

As for the performance of Premier Doug Ford, a slight majority of respondents in Ontario said that he did either a bad job (31 per cent) or a very bad job (21 per cent) handling the pandemic over the last two years.

It should, however, be noted that Ford’s approval rating was higher than his counterparts in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“More than two-in-five Ontarians (44 per cent) say Ontario Premier Doug Ford has done a good job on the COVID-19 file, but they are outnumbered by those who disagree. The government’s handling of schools has been a frequent source of criticism, as the province has closed them for in-person learning more often than anywhere in Canada. Ontarians also blamed Ford’s government for a “preventable” third wave earlier in the pandemic. Still, Ford fares better than other premiers to the west,” a post on Angus Reid’s website states.

The poll was conducted via an online survey from March 1-4. It is considered accurate within two percentage points, 19 times out of 20

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