MINNEAPOLIS — As Minnesota begins lifting some of the restrictions placed by Gov. Tim Walz to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, more than half of Minnesota’s voters say the stay-at-home measures have been worth it, a new KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found.
Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they believed the measures have been worth it, in order to protect people and limit the spread of the coronavirus; while 32% said Minnesota’s Stay at Home measures have caused more harm than good, by placing unnecessary burdens on people and the economy.
Minnesota’s Stay at Home order began March 25, limiting personal travel and closing businesses across the state. Walz extended the order on April 30.
The telephone poll of 800 registered Minnesota voters was taken May 18-20, after Gov. Walz allowed Minnesota’s stay-at-home order to expire, and before his most recent announcement to allow outdoor dining at restaurants beginning June 1.
The Minnesota Poll found that 57% of voters statewide believe the restrictions put in place were “about right.” Nine percent said the measures haven’t gone far enough, and 32% said the restrictions have gone too far. A higher percentage of men (42%) than women (24%) said that the measures have gone too far.
Interviews with poll respondents revealed reasons why they feel the way they do.
Michelle from St. Paul, who asked her last name not be used because of her line of work, said she has medical problems that could lead her to die if she contracts COVID-19. For that reason, she believes Minnesota's restrictions are necessary.
"It has been really scary," Michelle said. "Until things get more under control or we get a vaccine, I'm going to try to remain as quarantined as possible."
Lilia Spitzack and her husband both work in the restaurant agency. They have been financially affected by the pandemic, and believe if given the freedom, businesses and individuals would take necessary steps to keep others safe.
"It shows a lack of trust," Spitzack said. "We are not trusted to do the right thing, keeping our distance or acting in such a way that is safe while being able to enjoy a meal or shopping. No trust for the businesses to allow people to be safe. The decisions are a little disproportionate."
The poll also found voters living in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties were more likely to support the restrictions than people in the metro suburbs, northern and southern Minnesota.
Minnesotans over 50 years old (55%) were less likely to say the stay-at-home measures were worth it than those younger than 50 (63%).
But there was a much more drastic difference across political lines, with 96% of Democratic voters saying the restrictions were worth it, compared to 28% of Republicans and 45% of Independents.
On Wednesday, Walz reiterated the state’s belief that Minnesota has not reached its peak of COVID-19 cases, and will not do so until late-June. Of the poll respondents, 42% said they believe the worst is yet to come, 30% said the coronavirus is not a problem in their community and 16% said they believe the worst is happening now.
Minnesotans also vary in how they plan to resume activities such as shopping, dining out, and travel, as the state’s stay-at-home order is lifted. Twenty-nine percent said they would resume all their normal activities and 11% said they would continue sheltering in place until there’s a vaccine or the virus subsides. The majority fell somewhere in the middle.
The pandemic has had big economic toll, with 36% of Minnesota voters polled having someone in their household lose a job or have their income reduced due to the crisis.
The Minnesota Poll also asked how worried people are about becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus. Responses varied, with 10% very worried, 34% somewhat, 31% not too worried and 25% not worried at all.
The Minnesota Poll has a margin for error of ± 3.5 percentage points.