A majority of people believe that SOPs are necessary for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, with the need to restrict movements during the festive season cited as the primary reason for their view, a new poll shows.
The survey, conducted among 651 participants by the UCSI Poll Research Centre, found that 76% of respondents were in favour of the SOPs, with 64.4% agreeing on the need for restrictions on movements.
Another 52.7% said people are unlikely to adhere to the government’s advice to avoid crowded places and to observe physical distancing during conversation, or to comply with its recommendations for frequent handwashing and the use of face masks.
Just over 47% cited trust that the government had made the right decision while 43.6% said it was the least the government could do to accommodate the resumption of commercial activities.
A little over 18% said they could still go to retail shops to purchase goods while 2.8% said their view was based on other reasons.
Participants were allowed to choose more than one reason for their opinion.
The government’s initial SOPs for Chinese New Year, announced on Feb 4, prohibited reunion dinners except among family members living in the same house.
They also banned prayers at temples, house-to-house visits, inter-district or interstate travel to visit family members and friends as well as lion dance, dragon dance, lantern parades, Chinese opera and stage performances.
The SOPs were amended after a backlash to allow reunion dinners among close family members with a limit of 15 people living within a 10km radius and no inter-district or interstate travel.
Religious activities at temples were also allowed subject to strict health measures.
Of the 24% who disagreed with the implementation of SOPs for Chinese New Year, 60.3% said they were uncertain about how movement restrictions could take place when economic activities are allowed.
Just under 56% cited inconsistency in the practice of restricting social movements, while 48.1% said the existing SOPs for the movement control order are enough.
About 46% said rules should be relaxed to allow reunions durnig the festive season and 34.6% said reunion dinners are exclusively for family members anyway.
The USCI Poll Research Centre said the increase in Covid-19 cases could be why people appeared to have less confidence about adhering to health SOPs, especially during the festive season.
“Meanwhile, the public is still curious about the effectiveness of the movement restrictions when economic activities are allowed, coupled with the inconsistency in SOP announcements,” it said.
“Policymakers should consider establishing an SOP that is consistent and less confusing.”