With the recent easing of the coronavirus measures, social contact and well-being are improving again. Compliance with most measures remains stable for now (such as getting tested by the GGD and avoiding crowds) or is decreasing very gradually (such as working from home or staying 1.5 metres from others). This was clear from behavioural research conducted by RIVM and the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs).

Support for most of the measures remains high, and most of the survey respondents would support the measures even if they were to last another 6 months. In particular, this applies to behavioural rules regarding hygiene, working from home (fully or partly), avoiding crowds, testing and quarantine. Vaccination willingness remains stable and high among the survey respondents, but varies depending on the vaccine.

Uncertainty about next steps

Despite high support for the measures as such, there has been a decrease in the number of people who feel confident about government policies on COVID-19. Many survey respondents are critical about the course of government policy and how it has been explained. One-fifth feel that there are too many measures in place; one-third feel that there are not enough.

Over half of the study participants do not understand why some measures apply in some situations but not in others. Clear explanations about why the measures are useful and necessary will therefore continue to be important, and will remain relevant as more relaxed measures are implemented.

A further decline in compliance with the behavioural rules is not unlikely based on the results of this study. For example, many people expect to be less scrupulous about following the measures strictly after they are vaccinated. Events and easing measures will also lead to more crowds and less distancing, even among people who have not (yet) been vaccinated.

Moreover, few people state that they will get tested or go into quarantine after travelling abroad. However, these measures are crucial in order to curb the continued spread of the virus and the introduction of new variants into the Netherlands.

The underlying figures on these topics and more can be found on the extensive page on the behavioural study at https://www.rivm.nl/en/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/research/behaviour.

About the study

In order to gain a better understanding of people’s thoughts about the coronavirus measures, what motivates them to comply, and how people are affected, a major study has been conducted jointly since spring 2020 by RIVM, the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters (GGD-GHOR) and the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). It focuses on human behaviour, what people think of the government’s behavioural measures, and how they are doing. The results above were taken from the eleventh survey of more than 55,000 people in 24-28 March 2021 and compared to results from the previous surveys. These insights help the government to provide better support and information to citizens.