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COVID-19 rules disregard: Where people stand on health mandates

Noémi Hadnagy

Apr 28, 2022

As pandemic restrictions and mandates have continued to lift around the world, so too has the blanket that has concealed rebels actively choosing to flout the rules. New data has revealed that as months of mandates turned into years, some people began to question the effectiveness of the measures designed to keep us safe.

To track the sentiment against common COVID-19 restrictions, health insurance comparison website Compare the Market surveyed 2,515 people across Australia, America and Canada and found out their COVID-19 mandate confessions.

Over 20% of people have disregarded mask mandates throughout the pandemic

One defining characteristic of this pandemic has been the wearing of face masks to protect ourselves and others from the virus, so of course we wanted to know how many people have been adhering to these mandates.

And while we were expecting to have some pushback against mask mandates to be reflected in the results, we didn’t expect this much.

Despite the mask mandates being upheld throughout the pandemic, our survey found that 28.4% of Australians, 33.4% of Americans and 21.7% of Canadians have actively chosen not to wear a face mask.

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Digging a bit deeper, we found that males were more likely to go against mask directives in all three countries, with an average of 1 in 3 men admitting that they have already done so, compared to around 1 in 4 women. When analysing the figures by age groups in Australia and Canada, people aged between 35-44 years were most likely to disregard mask mandates, while almost half of the respondents aged 25-34 in America admitted to doing the same.

Top 3 age groups that have disregarded COVID-19 mask rules.

RankAustraliaCanadaAmerica
1st35-44 years old35-44 years old25-34 years old
2nd18-24 years old25-34 years old35-44 years old
3rd45-54 years old18-24 years old18-24 years old

One in ten people have gone to work sick throughout the pandemic

We also asked people whether they went into the office despite showing symptoms of COVID-19. Surprisingly, around 10% of respondents in all three countries who were working throughout the pandemic admitted to doing so. While the practice of ‘toughing it out’ on the job was more commonplace before COVID-19 appeared, it has generally been looked down upon in more recent times due to the complications associated with widespread workplace outbreaks.

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Of those who had worked throughout the pandemic, a whopping 19.61% of 18-24-year-old Australians admit to going to work while sick.

In similar numbers, 17.70% of Canadians aged 18-24 and 19.75% of Americans aged 25-34 also worked while exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms. Overall, younger people were more likely to disregard COVID-19 rules in the workplace, while those aged 45 years and above were more willing to follow the mandates. This could be due to the type of work that these younger age groups work in, such as retail and hospitality, which have high turnover rates if staff are unavailable.

Top 3 age groups that went into work with COVID-19-like symptoms.

RankAustraliaCanadaAmerica
1st18-24 years old18-24 years old25-34 years old
2nd35-44 years old25-34 years old18-24 years old
3rd25-34 years old35-44 years old35-44 years old

Considerable amount of people would be willing to go against future health directives

Lastly, we wanted to find out if people would be willing to go against their employer’s health mandates in the future. Despite the fact that around 10% of people across all three countries have gone to work sick, our survey found that over 15% of Australians and Canadians would be willing to go against their employer’s future health directives, while this number jumps to over 18% in America. This increase may show a growing change in the sentiment towards the severity of the COVID-19 illness.

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Again, on average, men were more likely to go against future health directives from their employers than their female or non-binary counterparts. Meanwhile, over a fifth of people aged 35-44 would likely go against future health directives, which is the highest figure of all age groups across each of the countries.

Reducing the risk of sickness at work

Compare the Market’s general manager for health insurance, Anthony Fleming spoke about the importance of reducing the risk of spreading viruses in the workplace.

“While some people believe that having a sniffle at work is harmless, what they may not realise is that it can greatly impact the wider team, particularly those with underlying health conditions,” Mr Fleming said.

“For immunocompromised people, something as simple as a cold can lead to fatigue-filled days, if not a trip to the hospital or other adverse effects.

“Not to mention, even a small stomach bug could wipe out the better part of a team, putting extra pressure on select individuals.

“Health directives by governments and employers, such as mask mandates and working from home guidelines, are put in place to ensure that people have a safe place to work.

“It’s essential that people follow health directives not only for their own health, but also those around them.”

Going into work while you are sick can not only affect you but also everyone you may come into contact with. While ‘toughing it out’ was more commonplace before the pandemic, these ongoing changes have brought the severity of a sniffle to the forefront of many people’s minds. That’s why it is important to consider health insurance and safeguard against possible health expenses in the event you do fall ill.

Compare the Market commissioned Pure Profile to survey 504 Australian, 1,008 American and 1,003 Canadian adults in March 2022.