Survey Findings on Views about the Enforcement of Restriction-testing Declarations by the Hong Kong SAR Government
To combat local COVID-19 outbreaks, the Hong Kong SAR government has developed a new strategy of restriction-testing declaration. The declaration requires people within specified “restricted area” to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing for COVID-19 (the arrangement). A telephone survey was conducted from 19 to 26 February 2021 by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to gauge public views on the arrangement. Through the survey, 704 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with a response rate of 32.1% (landline) and 31.2% (mobile). The sampling error is plus or minus 3.69 percentage points, at a confidence level of 95%.
Major findings are summarised as follows:
Of the respondents successfully interviewed, 43.2% approved or very much approved of the arrangement of setting up restricted areas, while 46.1% disapproved or very much disapproved of the arrangement. In assessing its effectiveness, 58.7% of all respondents said the arrangement was “ineffective” or “very ineffective”, in contrast to 37.7% saw it as “effective” or “very effective”. Very few respondents (3.6%) did not know or felt it hard to respond. The views were significantly associated with whether the respondents approved the arrangement.
Of those who supported the arrangement, the top three reasons to do so were: “belief in its effectiveness as a countermeasure to the epidemic” (49.1%), “it’s a reasonable arrangement” (39.8%), and it presents an “acceptable impact to personal life” (9.7%). However, of all the supporters, much more supported enforcing restrictions on specific buildings (61.3%), rather than the entire area (19.5%). Of those who disapproved of the arrangement, the top three reasons were: “no effect or low efficiency to deter the epidemic” (52.9%), “no trust in the government at all” (35.8%), and “too troublesome to the people” (9.2%).
The respondents were asked for their views about some commonly expressed views about the arrangement. More respondents (57.9%) agreed or very much agreed that the arrangement was a waste of resources because few infected cases were found. In contrast, 38.5% disagreed or very much disagreed with that view. However, 49.1% of the respondents agreed or very much agreed that the arrangement could relieve anxiety among residents in restricted areas. The same proportion (49.0%) disagreed or very much disagreed with that view. The views were significantly associated with whether the respondents approved the arrangement.
The survey has also tracked changes in respondents’ views on the development of the local pandemic. Two fifths of the respondents (40.4%) estimated that the local pandemic might ease in the coming month. 10.5% estimated it would be worsened, while 42.6% felt it would be about the same. The percentage distribution of the views was not significantly different from the last survey conducted in January 2021.
Around a quarter of the respondents (23.2%) believed the current countermeasures by the government should be tightened, and 37.5% would like them to remain the same. The proportion of respondents who endorsed a relaxation of the current countermeasures is 28.9%. This is a 9.3% increase from that of last month. Overall though, the percentage distribution of views regarding lockdown strategies had not changed significantly from the last survey in January 2021.
With regard to people’s concern of being infected, 37.5% were not worried, 41.9% were somewhat worried, 12.1% were quite worried, and 5.9% were very worried. Though respondents seemed more relaxed in the face of the epidemic, the percentage distribution of the views was not significantly different from the last survey in January 2021.
With regard to the prospects of the local economy, 70.4% of the respondents were quite worried or very worried about an oncoming recession, while 24.1% were not worried or were not worried at all. The percentage distribution of the views was not significantly different from the last survey in January 2021.