A third of Russians (32.8%) believe that the danger of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic is exaggerated, or they consider it to be an invention of interested parties, according to a study conducted by the Higher School of Economics (HSE).
A quarter of the respondents (23.2%) are sure that there is no epidemic and this is an invention of interested people; another 9.6% believe that the danger is exaggerated.
According to data from the end of May, respondents who believe that the peak of the epidemic is still ahead (25.6%) are more than those who are sure that the peak has been passed and it will decline (16.3%).
Researchers note that the behaviour of the sceptics is fundamentally different from those that see a danger. Of those who do not believe in the epidemic, 43% visit relatives and more than half (54%) go for walks. Three-quarters (74.22%) of sceptical respondents are convinced that there was no need for a self-isolation regime.
On the other hand, only 18% of those who acknowledge the epidemic visit their relatives and less than 12% meet with friends. Only 10% of those who recognise the epidemic agree with the statement that there was no need to introduce a self-isolation regime.
The proportion of Russians who have sick people amongst their friends, relatives or acquaintances has increased from 4.9% to 16.6% between April 20 and May 26.
The percentage of respondents who do not agree that a self-isolation regime was necessary has also grown in the last month: from 15.9% in early April to 32.4% by the end of May. The number of those who advocate tightening the restrictions also decreased in the same period and by May 26 amounted to 18.4%.
Most of the respondents (56%) support the removal of restrictions, of which 35.6% believe that they should have been removed earlier.
By the end of May, despite the self-isolation lockdown 46.2% of Russians went to work, and had visited a grocery shop (81.2%) or a pharmacy (56.5%).
In the month since the end of April, the proportion of people who go for a walk has tripled - from 12.3 to 38.7%. The number of those who meet with friends has grown in a similar way - from 6.7 to 21%.
The lockdown is also having an increasing effect on incomes. A third of respondents in late May said that incomes remained at the same level, down from 59.4% in March. Of those who have seen their incomes fall, a third (31.8%) say they have fallen significantly. However, since the beginning of April, the number of people who had completely lost their income decreased from 23.7 to 13.5% in May.
According to the study, the Southern Federal District leads the survey by the percentage of people who consider the epidemic a fabrication - 41.1%. More than 60% of the district respondents believe that there should be less restrictions during the epidemic and that the restrictions should have been removed earlier (42.7%). At the same time, the region is in second place in terms of the number of respondents who either completely lost their income or had it decrease significantly - 52.1%. Most of the respondents who faced a significant decrease in income or completely lost it were in the North Caucasus Federal District (53.8%).