The coronavirus has the Netherlands in its grips. To gain insight into how people view the imposed coronavirus measures in the Netherlands, their motivation in adhering to the measures, and what the impact is on their daily lives,  RIVM and GGD GHOR (the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters) are conducting a large-scale study on this topic. The study explores human behaviour, what people think of the government’s behavioural measures, and how they are doing physically, mentally and socially in these corona times.

Results of sixth round

More people getting tested if they have symptoms, increased support

Since the previous measurement in the behavioural study (9-12 July), the number of COVID-19 infections has increased significantly. In line with this increase, more participants in the behavioural study now indicate that they consider a second wave to be likely or very likely (from 67% to 76%) and that they are worried or very worried about the virus (from 34% to 43%).  At the same time – after a period in which support for the measures declined steadily – RIVM is seeing a sharp increase in support for measures such as staying 1.5 metres apart (+14%) and avoiding crowds (+7%). People also indicate that they are complying a bit more strictly with the distancing measures. The most striking change in behaviour is the number of people with symptoms that could indicate a COVID-19 infection who then got tested (almost doubled, rising to 32% of the study participants). This was clear from the sixth round of the behavioural study conducted by RIVM and the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), conducted between 19 and 23 August.

Distancing is difficult at social events

Half (51%) of the participants indicate that they had not been to a place where it was too crowded to stay 1.5 metres apart within the past week. Other research has shown that busy places play an important role in being able to stay 1.5 metres apart. The results show that distancing is the least successful at parties (birthdays, weddings), while shopping and at work (respectively 31%, 13% and 25%). Almost half of the respondents indicate that it is (almost) always possible to stay 1.5 metres apart at school and in cafés and restaurants, while two-thirds state that is the case in theatres or cinemas. These are places that have a systematic focus on limiting visitor numbers as well as distancing.

Staying home and getting tested

In the six weeks between the fifth and sixth survey measurements, 26% of people reported that they had had symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. Over half (54%) think that their symptoms were (very probably) caused by an underlying health condition, such as asthma or allergies. Even so, 21% of these people got tested just to be sure. As many as 45% of the people who had new symptoms indicate that they had been tested within the past six weeks. 85% of them state that they got tested within four days, and 59% were even tested within two days.

However, people who have symptoms (whether or not they attribute them to an underlying health condition) still go outside just as often: 90% go shopping, 43% go to work, 64% visit family or friends, and 41% go to cafés and restaurants. Despite the fact that people speak out in favour of staying home in case of symptoms (84% support this policy), it seems that many people do not comply themselves.