Dutch find social distancing more difficult to maintain

Social distancing at the Artis entrance the first day the Amsterdam zoo reopened to the public, 13 May 2020
Social distancing at the Artis entrance the first day the Amsterdam zoo reopened to the public, 13 May 2020NL TimesNL Times

While there is still broad support for social distancing measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, people in the Netherlands are finding it increasingly difficult to keep 1.5 meters apart, according to a survey by health institutes RIVM and GGD. 

Compared to the previous survey in mid-April, the proportion of people who said they always or mostly manage to keep their distance from others at work decreased by 5 percent, while shopping decreased by 9 percent, and while visiting family and friends decreased by 12 percent. The number of people who said they find social distancing difficult or very difficult increased by 5 percent.

Despite the increased difficulty in staying 1.5 meters apart, 93 percent of the Dutch population still support social distancing measures.

There is also still broad support for hygiene measures such as washing your hands often and for 20 seconds, and sneezing into your elbow or a handkerchief, with between 90 and 95 percent of Netherlands residents supporting these measures. 92 percent are still firmly behind staying at home if you have cold-like symptoms. 

Measures that limit our social life have less, though still significant support. 80 percent support receiving as few visitors as possible, and 81 percent are still behind working from home. The least popular rule, with 71 percent support, is that only one or two designated persons are allowed to visit elderly residents of nursing homes. 

The government's change in instructions from "stay home as much as possible" to "avoid crowds" was well received. 95 percent of Dutch are behind avoiding crowds, while only 82 percent were behind staying home.

The researchers also found that although the differences are not large, people with underlying health problems who are therefore more at risk when it comes to the coronavirus more often report that they are following hygiene measures and adhering to social distancing. This also applies to people over the age of 70.