Covid-19: More than half of Bulgarians believe ‘worst is behind us’ – poll

Fifty-three per cent of Bulgarians believed in mid-June that the worst of the Covid-19 situation in the country “is behind us,” according to a poll by the Exacta Research Group.

The poll was done between June 6 and 13 through face-to-face interviews with 1005 adult Bulgarians in many different parts of the country.

Thirteen per cent of those polled believed that the worst of the epidemic is imminent.

The belief that the worst is past was most prevalent among people younger than 50, highly educated and living elsewhere than Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.

Exacta said that the share of people who could not say what was to come was significant, at 34 per cent.

Residents of Sofia were divided into two similarly-sized groups, of about 45 per cent each, one group believing that the worst is past, and that other that the situation is unclear.

Sixty-nine per cent of Bulgarians saw the restrictive measures from March to May against the spread of Covid-19 as appropriate, while 64 per cent saw the loosening of measures from May onwards as appropriate.

Seventeen per cent disapproved of the restrictive measures and 17 per cent disapproved of easing them.

Support for the restrictive measures was highest among people, people older than 40, highly-educated and those with an above-average standard of living, Exacta said.

Support for the restrictive measures was strongest among residents of Sofia and the country’s district capitals, at 70 per cent.

The easing of measures was most strongly supported among residents of smaller settlements.

Supporters of Bulgaria’s ruling coalition government were, in turn, stronger supporters of the restrictive measures compared with those who back the opposition. Exacta said that in spite of the measures being non-partisan, there was a political divide.

“In society as a whole, however, there is a consensus that both the restrictive measures and their easing have proved timely and appropriate,” the agency said.

Close to 90 per cent said that they complied with the national operational headquarters’ recommendations regarding physical distancing, disinfection, wearing masks, among others.

The figure for this was particularly high among women, the elderly, educated respondents and residents of large cities.

Nine per cent of those polled said that they personally knew someone who had suffered from Covid-19.

But 54 per cent said that most of their acquaintances do not believe the information about the spread of new coronavirus.

The highest numbers of those who treated the information about the pandemic with distrust were people younger than 30, people with poor education, and residents of places other than Sofia.

Sixty-three per cent of the adult Bulgarians polled saw the pandemic as dividing rather than uniting the nation in the face of a common threat.

“Thus, according to the poll, people are divided into healthy and sick, young and old, believers and non-believers in the epidemic, observers and non-observers of social distancing, etc,” Exacta said.

This view was particularly strong in Sofia, where 73 per cent saw the pandemic as dividing the nation rather than bringing it together.

Thirty-four per cent said that they did not have to interrupt their work during the epidemic, while 25 per cent were on leave – of which 16 per cent were on paid leave and nine per cent unpaid leave.

Five per cent said that they had lost their job and not found a new one, while 2.4 per cent said that they had lost their job but got a new one.

Thirty per cent of those polled said that they intended to go on holiday this summer, 50 per cent said that they would not and the rest were yet to decide, depending on the development of the epidemic and their own financial situation.

It was only in Sofia that those who intended going on holiday outnumbered those who said they would not.

The largest groups who said they would go on holiday included people younger than 40, men, and educated and wealthy respondents, Exacta said.

Seventeen per cent of Bulgarians said that they would holiday at the country’s Black Sea coast and nine per cent said that they would go to the mountains or to a spa resort in Bulgaria.

About 4.3 per cent said that they would holiday in Greece. This option was most popular among respondents aged between 40 and 50.

Separately, media reports of recent days have shown long queues of cars heading from Bulgaria into Greece, while numbers of Bulgarians currently holidaying at the country’s Black Sea are strikingly lower than at this time in previous years.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation, please click here.

Section supported by the Embassy of Switzerland

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The Sofia Globe staff

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