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Aussies welcome return of small gatherings but big events still a concern

A little more than 60 per cent of Australians were looking forward to larger gatherings of family and friends and dining in at restaurants or cafés, but more than 70 per cent said they were uncomfortable about attending large public events, according to new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The ABS’s fifth Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey was conducted at the end of May when plans to relax COVID-19 restrictions were implemented in all states and territories.

ABS Program Manager for Household Surveys Michelle Marquardt said the survey found the level of comfort felt by Australians in returning to their usual activities following the easing of restrictions varied considerably depending on the type of activity.

“The vast majority of working Australians, 86 per cent, were at least somewhat comfortable in resuming their usual attendance at the workplace and of those with children, 81 per cent were at least somewhat comfortable with sending their children back to school or childcare,” Ms Marquardt said.

However, many people were uncomfortable about attending large public events (76 per cent) or indoor gatherings of over 100 people (66 per cent). A majority of people were also uncomfortable with returning to flying or travelling by public transport (63 per cent and 59 per cent).

Among those who expressed concern about returning to activities, a majority said that the development of a vaccine (64 per cent) and lower daily infection rates (61 per cent) would ease their concerns.

“Although restrictions were gradually easing, social distancing was still being observed, with 95 per cent of Australians continuing to keep their distance from people outside their household and 79 per cent avoiding social gatherings with people who do not live with them,” Ms Marquardt said.

However, by the end of May, fewer Australians (74 per cent) were avoiding public spaces compared to early May (85 per cent).

Nearly four in five adults (78 per cent) also reported that they either had or intend to have a flu vaccination this year with around 70 per cent of those people already having been vaccinated.

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