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B.C. residents least likely to follow COVID-19 restrictions, poll finds

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A new Insights West poll has found that many Canadians are contemplating spring break plans they know fall outside of the current public health restrictions, but they're tired and fed up with those rules. Richard Zussman reports – Feb 19, 2021

COVID-19 restriction fatigue seems to be hitting British Columbians harder than anywhere else.

In a poll released on Friday by Insights West, 34 per cent of respondents from British Columbia says they follow the pandemic restrictions all the time.

The B.C. compliance rate is far lower than the national average, were 48 per cent of people claim to be following the rules all the time.

“People feel ‘I am following most of the rules so I am justified to break them once in a while,'” Insights West president Steve Mossop said.

“I think the difference in British Columbia is attitudinal. When it comes to actual behaviours we do actually better. We are one of the most unlikely provinces to actually hop on a plane.”

Read more: Canadians are feeling pandemic fatigue. Experts say ‘greater good’ message isn’t enough

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Results are based on an online study conducted Feb. 3-7, 2021 among a sample of 1,614 English-speaking Canadians.

Insights West compiled a list of eight possible reasons that some Canadians are not following the rules and regulations all of the time. The largest proportion, 39 per cent, say they feel they can break the rules occasionally because they keep their bubble small and still feel like they are doing the right thing.

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Some that don’t always follow all of the rules indicate they are careful when they break them, an answer given by 34 per cent of respondents nationwide and 41 per cent of respondents in B.C.

“There is a lot of justification. That mentally is very contradictory of countries that have had success like Australia and New Zealand,” Mossop said.

“A quarter of Canadians say they are tired of the rules and are looking for a break.”

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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province is well aware of the exhaustion people are feeling. But the province disputes the idea a vast majority of people are breaking the rules and directly contributing to spread of the virus.

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“I think the overwhelming majority of British Columbians are following the rules and tired of those rules at the same time. The fact that they’re tired of the rules doesn’t change the fact that they’re following them,” Dix said.

“I don’t see any indication that seeing other people engaging in behaviour which is not consistent with public health orders, which are designed to keep people healthy.”

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British Columbians rank low on following COVID-19 restrictions: poll – Feb 19, 2021

UBC Department of Psychiatry Prof. Steve Taylor said an acknowledgment of breaking the rules is not surprising this long into a pandemic. People need to stay positive and remind themselves the more they go out and party the longer this will last, he added.

He said reaching out to likeminded people, virtually, is a good way to get through this.

“The longer pandemics draw out with the restrictions the more people get exhausted, they get sick of thinking about COVID, sick of thinking about it,” Taylor said.

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“The government needs to find good messages. But even good messages can get stale over time.”