Mostly true: Barely 63 per cent of the Belgian population are supporting the measures of the lockdown, with young adults the support is than 50 per cent

The Belgian tabloid newspaper Het Nieuwsblad published on 22 April 2020 an article with the title ‘Our motivation to comply with corona measures is visibly: how can we keep it up?’. In the article, the journalist Tom Le Bacq gives rates about how many people are supporting the measures of the lockdown. 

Barely 63 per cent of the Belgian population are supporting the measures of the lockdown, with young adults the support is less than 50 per cent. Who are these percentages based on? Tom Le Bacq mentions in Het Nieuwsblad that he has the figures from a survey carried out by the University of Ghent, Belgium, on the motivation of the Belgian population to abide by the Belgian rules of lockdown. The article also contains graphs from the study where the two percentages are clearly shown. You can find the same graphs below.

Belgian measures

First of all, what exactly are these Belgian measures? The main measures correspond to the other European countries. Staying inside is the norm. In addition, you have the social distancing rule (1.5 meters distance between people), exception to this rule are the people you live with. It is allowed to meet with two people to sport outdoors or go for a walk. You must be sure that you comply with the social distancing rule and the walk must be nearby. 

Belgians are only allowed to use the car for essential journeys. This includes going to the supermarket, to the pharmacy, to the doctor or to work. Also, in the supermarket and pharmacy there are measures. For example, only a limited number of people may be in the shop at the same time. The measure whereby the Belgian population would mainly lose their motivation is the social distancing rule. 

Marathon effort

Not only Het Nieuwsblad wrote about the motivation that disappears to comply with the measures. The quality magazine Knack also talked about a marathon effort in an opinion. The author describes it as follows: 

“The lockdown period is beginning to weigh on many. Keeping a close eye on the measures can be compared to running a marathon. Around kilometre 30 quite a few marathon runners get a motivation dip. The light at the end of the tunnel is not yet visible and the efforts begin to weigh. That gnaws at their motivation.”

The other classical media in Belgium also write about it, such as Gazet van Antwerpen and VRTNWS. Remarkably, they all use the same source: the survey of Ghent University. 

 ‘How are you doing in your room’

Since 19 March, the start of the lockdown, Ghent University has been measuring the motivation of the Belgian population to comply with the measures on a daily basis. The study is based on an online survey ‘How are you doing in your room’ in which motivation, resilience and wellbeing are examined. Ghent University says that this study is necessary because the motivation of the Belgian population reflects the support for the lockdown measures and indicates to what extent the population remains willing to follow the measures. 

According to Maarten Vansteenkiste, moral psychologist and researcher at Ghent University, more motivation is not necessarily a better thing. There are two types of motivation: Voluntary motivation (the population remains fully convinced of the need for the measures, there adhere to the measures on their own initiative) and Compulsory motivation – ‘mustivation’ (the population feels obliged to comply with the measures, in this way you avoid a fine, criticism or disdain of others). According to the graph, this voluntary motivation is visibly declining. In the first week, 81% of the interviewees were still convinced of the measures. In the third week it was only 76% and now they speak of 63%. 

The study also states that the number of police interventions in Belgium is increasing, but they don’t give clear figures or percentages. The police would have to hand out more and more fines because people do not comply with the measures. Because Belgians would become more and more nonchalant in complying. The Belgian media talk about lockdown parties. The police also report on 19 April 2020 about a lockdown party they have to shut down.

Also, most of the Belgians I ask if they are following the measures answer in the same way: “I am still following the measures, but no one knows how long the lockdown will last. I’m counting down to see friends and family again.” The motivation of a large number of the Belgian population has changed into mustivation.

Number of young adult participants

The percentages are based on a number of 18,476 participants of which 74% were women. According to a study, figures for a sample hardly change from 20,000 people. The question is of course whether the percentages are then reliable. Since the figure is below 20,000. They do not write in the study how many people of each age participated. We only have a general number of participants. This means that we do not know how many participants are young adults.

CONCLUSION

The claim is mostly true. We cannot say with certainty that the claim is completely correct. Since there is uncertainty about the number of participants that were young adults. The number of participants may also be just too few to make a statement like this. Very important is the fact that all media rely on a certain source: the survey of Ghent University. From different angles it is clear that the motivation has decreased. The survey also shows this decrease.

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