Germans more optimistic about post-lockdown world than French, Spanish and Italians - poll

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By Rachael Kennedy
Germans polled in favour of opening borders
Germans polled in favour of opening borders   -  Copyright  Michael Sohn/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Germans appear more confident about life post-lockdown than the French, Spanish and Italians, a Euronews-commissioned poll has found.

Data from the survey, carried out by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, has found Germans feel a little less cautious than other Europeans as the continent emerges from months of coronavirus restrictions.

The survey recorded the views of 6,000 people in total — 1,500 from each of the participant countries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain — between July 17-18 to get a better idea of how COVID-19 has continued to affect daily life.


Borders, for instance, are something that more than half the German respondents believed should be kept open, contrary to their French, Italian and Spanish counterparts.

The French were most in favour of shutting borders (63%), followed by Spain (57%) and Italy (54%).

None of the countries surveyed, however, were confident of travelling to other nations by aeroplane, but the Germans did show an individual keenness to travel internationally by car.

Thibault Camus/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
People appear to be overwhelmingly reluctant to travel by airThibault Camus/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

This does not mean the Germans are planning to take advantage of an open border — if there is one — as 61% said they now do not intend to travel anywhere this summer.

All four countries also agreed that it would not be safe to allow tourists from Germany, the UK and other parts of Northern Europe into Spain, Italy and the rest of Southern Europe, despite extra measures in place.


Masks may have become a common sight across the continent to limit transmission of the virus; however, Germans appear to be slightly less vigilant with wearing them.

The majority of respondents across the board say they believe masks are effective in combating the spread of COVID-19, and that they always wear them in supermarkets or on public transport (something that is compulsory in some countries) but the universal agreement ends here.

Fewer than a quarter of German respondents said they always wear a mask when leaving the house, which can be compared with 69% in Spain, 53% in Italy and 38% in France who do so.

When meeting a friend outside, nearly a third of Germans said they never wear their face covering, while just 5% of Italians and Spanish said the same.

In fact, more than half the Spanish respondents and 42% of Italians said they always wear a mask to meet a friend outdoors.

A similar pattern emerged during park visits, too. Almost half the German respondents said they never wear a mask when walking in the park, which contrasts with half the Spanish respondents who said they always put one on.

To compare, just 10% of Germans said they would always wear a mask for this occasion.

Is the worst yet to come?

According to around half the German and Italian respondents, the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us.

But for the Spanish and the French, more than half think worse is on the way.

This sentiment may be split when referring to national outbreaks, but for economical matters, all four countries aligned: they think the peak is still approaching.

Spain was the most pessimistic about the financial outlook, with more than three-quarters agreeing the worst is to come, and 72% of the French agreed.

Meanwhile, Germany and Italy were on an almost even keel with 64% and 63% respectively thinking the financial rock bottom is also still ahead of us.

Where does this sentiment come from? According to the polling, this could lie with the nations' faith in the ability of their leaders.

Alastair Grant/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Germans view Merkel more favourably than the Spanish and French view Sanchez and MacronAlastair Grant/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Two-thirds of Germans said they approved of Chancellor Angela's Merkel's handling of the crisis, while just 37% of Spanish people approved of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and 31% approved of France's Emmanuel Macron.

Italy was not involved in this part of the survey.

Germany's confidence in Merkel appeared to go further than this, with 46% of respondents saying they felt she would be able to resume the national economy, while 35% voted against, and 19% said they weren't sure.

Exactly half the respondents in Spain and France said they didn't believe their leaders would be capable of getting the country's finances going at all.

In fact, the majority of respondents did not feel Sanchez and Macron were strong, could tell the truth, knew how to get things done, nor could they unite countries under their leaderships.

This was unlike Merkel's result, who scored positively almost across the board.

Stephanie Lecocq/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Additional caution may be tied to the trust felt in individual governments and leadersStephanie Lecocq/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A second wave — more lockdowns?

A majority of citizens from all four countries agreed that people have too quickly forgotten the threat posed by COVID-19 — but this fear appeared greatest in France, Spain and Italy.

In Spain, 85% of people said this was the case, while 83% said the same in France and 80% in Italy.

For Germany, 73% thought this was the case.

All four countries, again, had majorities saying they observe strict social distancing; however, Germany had more people who said they had actually relaxed their measures.

This could be explained by each country's experience with the coronavirus.

Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Many believe another lockdown is likelyManu Fernandez/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

While all countries surveyed have recorded upwards of 200,000 cases of the illness, Germany's death rate is far lower.

Merkel's nation has reported a little over 9,000 deaths to COVID-19, compared with over 35,000, 30,000 and 28,000 people in Italy, France and Spain respectively.

This particularly low death rate in Germany has been widely attributed to the country introducing wide-scale testing early on into the outbreak, meaning even mild cases of the illness were confirmed.

Highlighting their caution further, Spain, Italy and France expressed acceptance of a second lockdown in the event of another outbreak — but none were as keen as Germany.

However, all the countries believed that another lockdown is likely.

Ultimately, some countries are showing more caution than others — whether this is due to trust in governments and how badly they have been stung by COVID-19 — while some appear to be pushing forward for the future.

There were two things that were widely agreed upon, though: the impact of the virus has not been exaggerated, and we must now get used to living with its threat for the future.