Special to Niagara Now/The Lake Report
Almost three-quarters of NOTL residents gave themselves an A+ grade for adhering to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and guidelines, a survey by The Lake Report has found.
These days, with the streets and sidewalks of NOTL usually deserted (except on weekends when visitors descend), it might not be surprising that out of a sample of 260 of our readers, 72 per cent gave themselves a 9 or the maximum 10 for adhering to the pandemic restrictions and guidelines. The average score out of 10 across the entire sample was as high as 8.9.
Our survey addressed three of the individual guidelines – and we see that compliance is virtually total. Just under two-thirds of our readers say they’ve been “excellent” about staying at home other than for essential trips, with a further 33 per cent saying they “have been good about it.”
On social distancing, 70 per cent say they’ve been “excellent” at complying, with a further 28 per cent being “good about it.” And the figures for frequent hand washing are similar (67 per cent and 30 per cent). For sure, the evidence about staying at home and social distancing is plain for all to see – and The Lake Report applauds NOTLers for the sacrifices they’re making and their commitment to the cause.
The survey did identify a couple of worrisome issues: Among the 19 per cent of readers who told us they are self-employed, more than one in four expect to see a significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And just over one in five readers who would normally be in the categories of part-time or full-time employment told us they’ve been either temporarily or permanently laid-off. Worrying figures indeed.
We’ve seen and heard lots about the wearing of surgical masks. As of now, only one in four of our readers say they always wear a mask when they’re shopping for groceries or other essentials.
And at the other end of the spectrum, the “never-maskers” (anti-maskers?) constitute 39 per cent of the NOTL population. That leaves a large middle cohort on masking: 36 per cent of residents claim they often or rarely wear a mask when shopping for groceries or other essentials.
Attitudes may change. People may become more comfortable seeing themselves and others wearing masks. And the rules may change.
So, how are NOTL people spending their stay-at-home time compared with their normal lives? The good news is that using hand sanitizer tops the table – and by a long way! In fact, 77 per cent of our readers are using more hand sanitizer these days (and just under 50 per cent say they’re using a lot more). As we might expect, readers say they are far more into social media and video chats.
Even with what we know to be the age demographic of the NOTL population (about one-third of the respondents to our survey are over 65), we are seeing quite a rise in online shopping – for groceries, and also for non-grocery items. This may well lead to a long-term shift to online shopping, post-pandemic.
Yes, we’re living in challenging times and NOTLers are making some real sacrifices in their day-to-day lives. But what are they missing from their normal lives?
Topping the list are the social aspects of life – meeting with friends or with family members who are not in the immediate home. Also up there on the “missing list” are some business activities: just over half of our readers say they miss going to restaurants (going to pubs and bars constitutes a further 32 per cent).
What is known in the official COVID-19 vocabulary as “close contact businesses” (hair salons, physiotherapists, dentists, opticians etc.) also figure prominently – mentioned by just under one-half of our readers.
And if we include “missing a little” as well as “missing a lot,” the count for close contact businesses climbs as high as 93 per cent. Let’s hope those businesses do recover and become once again part of the NOTL scene when the pandemic finally passes.
We also asked our readers to tell us about some good experiences they may have had during the lockdown – and the comments show just how connected and caring the NOTL community is.
It almost goes without saying that the work of front-line services was frequently acknowledged (fire, ambulance, hospital workers and clinic staff). And our readers often mentioned how thankful they are for the help from neighbours with delivery of items such as groceries.
Residents were also quick to thank businesses such as the Valu-mart stores in Virgil and Old Town for their understanding and efficiency in ramping up home delivery and in-store pick-up. NOTL pharmacies were applauded for the changes they’ve made to help with deliveries.
Area wineries and distilleries were praised for their swift moves to produce hand sanitizers. And several residents were recognized for their work to produce face masks, both generally and specifically for health care workers.
The appreciation also extended to the lord mayor, councillors and town staff, particularly for their regular updates.
* Prior to retirement, Steve Ferley was president of PMB Print Measurement Bureau, Canada’s leading supplier of print readership information.
Using “More” or ”A Lot More”
Hand sanitizer 77%
Social media 66%
Video chats 63%
Netflix, other streaming 48%
Regular TV news 46%
Online grocery shopping 33%
Other online shopping 35%
Puzzles, games etc 31%
Take-out food 27%
“Miss A Lot”
Meeting with friends 74%
Meeting with family living outside the home 72%
Restaurant visits 54%
Close contact businesses 47%
Concerts, shows, theatre 43%
Going to pubs, bars 32%
Playing sports 30%
Non-essential shopping 29%
Watching pro sports on TV 24%
Religious gatherings 17%