Stuck with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for two years and counting, despite the availability of vaccines, a GlobalData poll has found that 51 per cent of global respondents believe that the wearing of facemasks should be compulsory in grocery shops in the event of a new, vaccine-resistant wave of COVID-19.
The leading data and analytics company in its latest poll revealed North America as lagging behind Europe and the rest of the world. The poll further revealed that North America is the main anti-mask mandate region with only a 39 per cent positive response rate, while Europe and the rest of the world both show clear majority approval.
Still in North America, 11 per cent of the pollsters said they were unsure and 49 per cent were anti-mask. In the UK and Europe 7 per cent of the pollsters said they were unsure while 35 per cent indicated they did not favour making facemasks compulsory in grocery shops. In the rest of the world, 3 per cent of the pollsters said they were unsure while 25 per cent indicated they did not favour making facemasks compulsory in grocery shops
Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, commented:
“The US’s polarized political culture is driving antipathy for mask mandates, rather than any public health evidence. Several states have introduced bans on mask mandates, and the Republican-dominated Supreme Court struck down the last federal government facemask requirements in April 2022.
“Effectively, this passes the responsibility down to individual establishments instead of public authorities. US politicians and demagogues have made issues of public hygiene into a political football, a culture war where frankly it should only be about science.”Ryan Whittaker
Vaccine-Resistant Variants Remain a Threat
In Germany and the UK, facemask mandates have been lifted. However, overall European attitudes towards such policies are generally supportive at 58 per cent. In other parts of the world, especially those with low vaccination rates like Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, facemasks remain a key strategy to reduce transmission in places where people gather, like supermarkets.
New variants, especially vaccine-resistant variants, remain a threat to full business recovery. Scientists are identifying new variants approximately every six months. While consumers in non-US countries may have a positive attitude towards mask mandates when they’re required, half of US consumers are much more committed to refusal.
The latest variants experts are concerned about- BA.4 and BA.5- are very closely related to the Omicron variant behind the previous wave. These variants were added to the World Health Organization’s monitoring list in March 2022 and have also been designated as variants of concern in Europe.
“Companies in the US may have to step up and become the first line of defense in the event of a new, vaccine-resistant COVID-19 wave, implementing policies that will be unpopular with half or more of their clientele.
“For this reason, public-facing companies have a duty to commit now to principles of science-led public health and be prepared to publicly defend and enforce them to protect customers and employees.”Ryan Whittaker