How soon should we reopen the American public square in the COVID-19 pandemic? Government at all levels has grappled with that question for several weeks, and reluctance in some quarters has been driven by risk-averse incentives common in our politics. Risk aversion doesn’t just apply to politicians, however. They are responding to reluctance on the part of their constituents — and a new Washington Post/U-Maryland poll shows that reluctance to be widespread.
If only one-fifth of Americans think it’s safe to go back out into public by the end of the month, that’s not going to kickstart the economy:
As the coronavirus spreads across the country, Americans are curbing their expectations about when it will be safe for gatherings of 10 or more people, with about 2 in 3 adults now saying it will not be until July or later before those events can happen, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.
The findings provide more evidence that Americans remain worried about the threat of the virus and cautious about efforts to lift stay-at-home restrictions and to reopen businesses, even as many governors have begun to move in that direction. In the face of plans in many states to gradually ease those limitations, significant majorities of Americans continue to emphasize the need for social distancing and other safety measures.
Fully half of all Americans say in the poll that they think it will not be safe for gatherings of 10 or more until midsummer, including nearly one-quarter who say it will not be safe until 2021 or later. Just about 1 in 5 say they believe such gatherings are safe now or will be by the end of this month.