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About 4 in 10 Retreat From Store and Restaurant Visits During Omicron Surge

  • Gallup poll shows pessimism about the COVID-19 pandemic increasing in correlation with recent Delta and Omicron waves
  • Half of all respondents say they’re concerned about contracting the virus
  • 41 percent say they are avoiding stores and restaurants, with only a small share saying they have used indoor dining within the past 24 hours

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant has made Americans warier about the pandemic and more likely to return to self-isolating behaviors, according to a Gallup poll.

The poll, taken between Jan. 3 and Jan. 14, found that 58 percent of respondents thought the pandemic situation was worsening. This marked an increase of 40 points from October.

Gallup found a similar trend during the surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant, which drove up the share of pessimistic respondents to 68 percent. Optimism was at its highest point in June as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout accelerated, with 89 percent saying they thought the pandemic situation was improving.

Half of all respondents were worried about contracting the virus, and 56 percent said they have avoided large crowds in the past week. Forty-one percent said they have steered clear of public places like stores and restaurants.

  • Respondents who were worried about contracting COVID-19 were less likely to participate in activities such as large gatherings or visiting a restaurant; vaccinated respondents were also more likely to avoid these activities, despite their lower risk of infection and series illness
  • The share of respondents saying they have dined indoors at a restaurant in the past 24 hours hasn’t crested 30 percent since May 2021; in the most recent survey, the share stood at 18 percent – down six points from a survey issued in late November and early December
  • Masking remains common, with 72 percent of respondents saying they wore one in public in the past seven days; a majority of people have continued this practice throughout the pandemic, dipping only to 60 percent in July 2021

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