Revealed: How many Australians are following social distancing rules?

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·2-min read

A survey has revealed how Australians have responded to the coronavirus pandemic – and possibly how we’ve managed to slow the rate of infection.

The survey, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, collected information from 1059 Australians aged 18 and older between March 31 and April 6 via phone.

It asked participants about the health precautions they were taking to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus. It also looked at their employment situation.

A runner passes the iconic landmark of the Sydney Opera House during sunrise.
A man enjoys a sunrise jog outside an empty Sydney Opera House. Source: Getty Images

On Monday, Queensland and Western Australia recorded no new cases of coronavirus.

According to the survey, 98 per cent of respondents said they had been keeping their distance from people following the introduction of social distancing and isolation rules.

Eighty-eight per cent said they were avoiding public spaces and public events, while 87 per cent had cancelled personal social gatherings.

A study published by Professor Mikhail Prokopenko, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering, earlier this month suggested without 80-90 per cent of social distancing compliance “the epidemic will not be effectively controlled” in Australia.

NSW Police ask people to move on while patrolling during the Easter long weekend at Bondi Beach in Sydney.
A police officer asks two people to move on at Bondi Beach over Easter. Source: AAP

“There is a clear trade-off – stricter measures imposed earlier would reduce how long our lives are impacted by this disease,” Prof Prokopenko said.

“On the contrary, laxer protocols could mean a longer, more drawn out and ineffective struggle against COVID-19.”

Eighty-seven per cent also said they were using hand sanitiser or washing their hands more than usual due to the pandemic.

ABS program manager for household surveys Michelle Marquardt said in a statement the results show “the majority of Australians are adhering to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19”.

“We also found that one in six Australians are wearing a face mask (17 per cent) as one of their preventative measures,” she said.

A shopper is seen observing social distancing at Khan's SUPA IGA in Cobar, Australia.
A shopper observes social distancing at Khan's SUPA IGA in Cobar in NSW's central west. Source: Getty Images

Nearly a quarter of respondents also reported working fewer hours due to the pandemic.

However, 61 per cent said they were working the same number of hours while 13 per cent said they were working more.

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