How Americans view businesses reopening in August amid economic hardship

August 08, 2020, 12:00 PM GMT+0

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is clear: millions of lost jobs, a drop in Gross Domestic Product, and unease among many Americans. Even as Americans grapple with economic challenges, most in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll still prioritize protecting people from the health effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (63%) over the economic effects (37%).

But the national conversation on this topic continues as government entities and the public negotiate business and sports re-openings. The reopening of local economies has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases, which Americans expected by four to one would happen. The country overwhelmingly supports closing bars again (67%), which is the same as it’s been for much of the pandemic.

Republicans are closely divided on the idea of closing bars again, though they are more supportive of other re-openings. Half of Republicans (50%) want to keep the bars closed, while slightly fewer (46%) want them to reopen. Republicans are more likely overall to support reopening various establishments that were shuttered to prevent the coronavirus’ spread, including beaches (67%), indoor restaurants (64%), outdoor dining (83%), and churches (70%).

Democrats disagree with the desire to reopen. A majority are particularly likely to say bars (83%), indoor dining (73%), churches (71%), and beaches (63%) should probably or definitely remain closed. Three in five (61%) Democrats are comfortable with outdoor dining, however, which has been rolled out in many cities.

More than half the public would support closing the economy again in states that have reopened if COVID-19 cases begin to spike. Republicans overall are divided (43% support, 48% oppose). GOP women narrowly support re-closing economies again if necessary, but GOP men do not.

During this period of economic distress, Congress and the Trump administration are negotiating a second stimulus. They are not yet close to an agreement. About three-quarters (73%) of Americans believe the public should receive a second round of stimulus payments, far more than the percentages who want stimulus payments for businesses or for state governments. Just 10 percent overall don’t want a second round of payments. Twice as many Republicans would forego any stimulus.

Where Congressional Democrats and Republicans disagree is the size of additional payments to those who have become unemployed in the pandemic. Just about as many support the Democratic position to keep the payments at $600 a week as take the GOP position of reducing the benefit below $600.

One in five want no extension of the additional jobless benefits. Those who have been laid off during the pandemic want the pandemic benefits continued: nearly half (48%) would keep the weekly benefit at $600, a third would continue benefits at a lower rate, and one in 11 (9%) would eliminate them entirely.

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

Related: Most Americans find it very important to vote in the 2020 presidential election

Methodology: This Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US registered voters interviewed online between August 2 – 4, 2020. This sample was 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. The margin of error is approximately 3.3% for the overall sample.

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