Churches over bars: What Americans think should reopen

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
July 17, 2020, 5:15 PM GMT+0

Many state economies have emerged from COVID-19 dormancy, and almost as many are struggling to find the right mix of business support and disease management. The same goes for Americans, who have differing opinions on what parts of society should reopen and what should remain closed.

According to the latest Economist / YouGov survey of 1,500 people most (53%) of Americans think churches should remain closed out of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic, while roughly two in five (39%) say they should probably or definitely reopen. Figures among frequent churchgoers (those who say they attend at least once or twice a month) are flipped: 57 percent say they should reopen, 39 percent say they should remain closed.

Overall, opening churches is more appealing to Americans than opening bars.

Only a quarter (25%) of Americans think bars should reopen while 68 percent think they should probably or definitely remain closed. Americans under 30 years old skew further toward the keep-them-closed camp (20% open, 73% closed).

Faced with mounting COVID-19 cases, many states have paused or rolled back reopening plans, and states that had previously allowed bars to be open such as Arizona, California and Colorado have ordered them to close.

However, outdoor dining has opened up across much of the country, which is something most Americans are comfortable with. Roughly two-thirds (67%) of Americans think outdoor dining should definitely or probably reopen out of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic, while about a quarter (26%) say it should probably or definitely remain closed. The politically weighted data shows a little more than half of Democrats (55%) think outdoor dining should reopen, while the vast majority (87%) of Republicans think as such.

Similar overall figures emerge regarding indoor dining – 52 percent of Americans say it should probably or definitely remain closed, while 41 percent say it should reopen, although like bars, indoor dining has been rolled back in some states seeing case surges.

Beaches and amusement parks

Americans are divided regarding public beaches, of which images have been commonly used to shame lax attitudes around social distancing. Half (50%) say public beaches should probably or definitely remain closed out of concern for the virus, while just under half the nation (45%) say otherwise. The remaining aren’t sure.

Americans, however, are more likely to think beaches should reopen compared to another common summer retreat for families: Amusement parks. While about a third (30%) of Americans say they should reopen, roughly two-thirds (65%) of Americans say they should remain closed. Looking at political divides, only 15 percent of Democrats think they should reopen, and 81 percent say they should remain closed. Republicans are split: About half (51%) think it’s time to open amusement parks and 44 percent think they should remain closed. This data comes as several theme parks have already reopened with restrictions.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The most recent Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between July 12 - 14, 2020. The approximate margin of error is 3.3 percentage points for the overall sample. Samples are weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens.

Title image: Getty; graphic icons: ProPublica and Alberto Cairo

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