79% of Australians say they still engage in COVID safe behaviours four years on
January 30th, 2024, YouGov

79% of Australians say they still engage in COVID safe behaviours four years on

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

This became a life-changing event that quickly changed the way people around the world lived day-to-day. Recent YouGov Surveys data has found that, four years on, most Australians (79%) are still practicing habits that they picked up during the pandemic.

For many Australians, the risk and fear of contracting the COVID-19 disease has somewhat subsided, four years later. However, 32% of respondents expressed that they were still concerned with contracting the disease, and more than a third (37%) of all Australians still read and are up-to-date with COVID-19 cases domestically or internationally.

Unsurprisingly, the way most Australians live their life today still reflects the impacts of the pandemic.

57% of Australians still consistently use hand sanitiser (compared to 74% original adopters), and 43% (compared to 61%) still take a COVID-19 test when experiencing symptoms or when they’ve come into contact with someone who has the disease. A further 23% still wipe down surfaces before touching them (compared to 45%).

There are, however, some widely adopted preventative health practices during the pandemic that have now become much less common. This includes social distancing from others (21% still do this compared to 68%), wearing a facemask when in public (15% vs. 70%) and avoiding public transport (13% vs 40%).

Australians are also still practicing adopted social and work behaviours. Outdoor socialisation, like taking walks outside, going for picnics or exercising with family and friends remains commonplace (20% vs 40%). Working and studying remotely has also remained routine (15% vs 29%), as is attending virtual work meetings (13% vs 25%), although these numbers have reduced to half in these four years.

Across the generations, one in four (25%) Millennials are the most likely to say they still work or study remotely.

Behaviours that are now less routine include attending virtual social events (10% vs 34%) and refraining from dining in at restaurants (9% vs 53%).

Catherine Kretzmann, YouGov Associate Director said, “The way Australians live their lives today reflects the impact of the pandemic, with many behaviours that were adopted four years ago remaining. They have been proven to not just have been necessary COVID-19 band-aids, but also to a new way of life for many Australians.”

For many Australians, the impacts brought on during the pandemic were not all negative, with many saying that the changes have had a positive impact on their lives. 27% of Australians say they now prioritise exercise and being active; 22% picked up a new hobby during lock-down that they otherwise wouldn’t have; and 32% of workers say that being able to work remotely has also had a positive impact.

45% of Australians even expressed that they enjoyed being in lockdown and having a slower paced life.

In light of this, over three quarters of Australians (77%) say they feel prepared for another global health pandemic if it occurred within their lifetime.

Methodology: This survey was conducted from the18th to 22nd January with a nationally representative sample of 1020 Australians aged 18 or older. Results are weighted to be representative of the population by age, gender, and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.