Australians are slacking off and failing to social distance

Australia

Australians might be feeling more stressed and lonely than ever due to Victoria’s second wave, but we’ve also let down our guard in this key area.

Researchers at the Australian National University say three in 10 Australians have slacked off and are not social distancing or avoiding crowded places.

Victorians are the only ones maintaining the highest level of vigilance.

An ANU survey of more than 3000 people last month compared experiences and attitudes of besieged Victorians with the rest of the nation.

It determined a spike in anxiety and worry has been triggered by Victoria’s second wave.

Australians are feeling more anxious than ever but are also failing to social distance – unless you live in Victoria.
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Australians are feeling more anxious than ever but are also failing to social distance – unless you live in Victoria. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

However, fewer Australians are following social distancing measures than ever before.

Co-author Professor Matthew Gray described it as a “worrying” trend.

“We found there has been a significant decrease in people following physical distancing requirements compared to earlier in the year,” he said.

During the week leading up to the August survey, 72.2 per cent of Australians avoided crowded places, a dramatic drop on 94.3 per cent in April.

A smaller percentage said they always or mostly avoided public places (55.8 per cent), down from 86.5 per cent in April.

“Even more interestingly though, the change was not consistent across the population,” Prof Gray said.

There’s been a dramatic spike in the number of Australians feeling lonely, anxious or distressed due to Victoria’s second wave.
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There’s been a dramatic spike in the number of Australians feeling lonely, anxious or distressed due to Victoria’s second wave. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire /David Crosling

“Declines were greatest outside of Victoria. But even in that state, there has been fewer people following the requirements since April.”

The 1.5-metre distance rule was followed by the vast majority of people but had also plunged from 96 per cent to 86.9 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, Australians are also feeling distressed or lonely.

For instance, 62.6 per cent of Australians felt anxious or worried about the coronavirus, up from 57.3 per cent in May.

The largest jump in anxiety levels occurred among females, growing from 60.9 per cent in May to 68.3 per cent last month.

Many Australians are failing to social distance.
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Many Australians are failing to social distance. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Study co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said young Australians (aged between 25 and 34) were the most likely to stress about COVID-19.

Victoria is the most stressed state, with 68.1 per cent of residents claiming to be anxious, a big increase from 58.9 per cent in May.

Another 40.5 per cent of Australians feel lonely.

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