Quebecers most concerned about COVID-19

However, a study by Dalhousie University and Angus Reid shows concern levels don't always correlate with behaviour.

When it comes to the coronavirus, a new survey finds that Quebecers are the most concerned, but that unease hasn’t translated into more stockpiling than other provinces.

In partnership with survey firm Angus Reid, Dalhousie University released a nationwide survey of 1,014 Canadians, performed over the weekend. It found that 79% of Quebecers expressed concern about the outbreak, the highest rate of any province, about twice as high as least-concerned Saskatchewan.

However, when it comes to actually being prepared, Manitoba is where the greatest number of consumers (52%) have made food provisions as a result of the pandemic, while only 31% of Quebecers have done so.

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Of the 41% of Canadians who bought provisions overall, 30% purchased dry and canned goods, followed by non-food items (like sanitary products, tissues and toilet paper) and frozen foods, both at 24%.

Among respondents, 65% are concerned about risks associated with going to grocery store, with the highest tally being reported by Ontario, at 73%.

While grocery retailers have reported large increases in online orders, only 3% of Canadians surveyed by Angus Reid say they have opted to buy groceries online since the beginning of the outbreak due to their concerns. However, if applied to the general population, that rate could still represent more than one million new users.

Only 26% of respondents stated that they were concerned about going to a restaurant since the outbreak started. Half of those who say they are not concerned are still visiting restaurants but being more selective in their choices.

This week, Open Table – an online reservation platform used by more than 51,000 restaurants – released its own report tracking how in-restaurant visits have changed since the beginning of March across all booking channels.

Every day of the month has seen a year-over-year decline in bookings at Canadian restaurants, hitting double digits on March 9, reaching a 40% decline by March 13 (the day after most “panic buying” behaviour was seen at grocery stores) and continuing on to 60% by March 16 and 94% on March 17.  On March 16, the Ontario government called a state of emergency, closing restaurants outside of takeout and delivery orders, while public health officials in other provinces have urged bars and restaurants to do the same.