No significant increase in checking of Covid certs, ESRI research finds

Unvaccinated people clearly finding places where they can get in, says Prof Lunn

  Since August, about 27% of those sitting indoors at pubs and restaurants have reported that their Covid certs were not checked. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Since August, about 27% of those sitting indoors at pubs and restaurants have reported that their Covid certs were not checked. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

An almost equal proportion of vaccinated and unvaccinated people report sitting inside in pubs and restaurants, despite public health rules requiring proof of inoculation or immunity, new research shows.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published its latest social activity measure, which examined the week of November 16th-23rd. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults participated in the study.

It found that despite an increase in the percentage of people dining indoors, there has been no increase in how often Covid certs are checked.

Since August, about 27 per cent of those sitting indoors at pubs and restaurants have reported that their Covid certs were not checked, with the corresponding number for cafes being 32 per cent.

However, the ESRI acknowledges the total numbers dining indoors at all of these venues has been low, so “it is possible that small changes in Covid cert checking rates have not been detected”. The head of the ESRI’s behavioural unit, Prof Pete Lunn, on Monday told RTÉ radio it was unlikely the percentage of certs getting checked had changed significantly in recent weeks.

Between 3 per cent and 4 per cent of vaccinated and unvaccinated respondents reported sitting indoors in pubs and restaurants the day before the survey in November, the think-tank found, while fewer unvaccinated people sat indoors in cafes.

People who have been fully vaccinated were more likely to visit a cafe, pub or restaurant, but unvaccinated people who went to a cafe, pub or restaurant tended to go to slightly more of them than vaccinated people did.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Prof Lunn said that, when cafes were included, the proportion of unvaccinated people going indoors to cafes, pubs and restaurants was “a little over half the proportion of the vaccinated”.

While unvaccinated people were not getting into as many pubs and restaurants as vaccinated people were, they were “clearly” finding places that they could get in, he said.

The research found members of the public appear to be more conscious of Covid-19 in the community, with a “small but significant” increase in caution, and a reduction in close contacts.

“More people now are engaging in mitigative behaviours (keeping their distance, washing hands and wearing masks) than at the start of November,” the ESRI found.

“The increase is not extensive, but the percentage of the population who report engaging in these behaviours most of the time has returned to its highest level since May. Meanwhile, there has been a drop in the percentage who report rarely or never engaging in these behaviours.”

Worry about Covid-19 has seen a sharp rise over the last two months, reaching its highest level since May.

People are most worried about the healthcare system, which has an average score of 5.8 out of 7, the ESRI said.

There has also been a steep increase in the percentage of the population that thinks the Government’s response to the pandemic is insufficient, rising from 18 per cent in the beginning of October to 44 per cent this round.

The research data indicated Covid-19 and the associated restrictions have had a major impact on people’s wellbeing, particularly among younger adults.

The data suggests that younger adults are the most likely people in society at the moment to feel loneliness, more likely than older adults.