Americans are returning to life as normal, resuming the everyday activities they loved doing before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll.
A survey released Friday by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that majorities of Americans who were regularly visiting bars and restaurants, traveling, or attending movies, sporting events, or other activities before the pandemic have now resumed doing so after COVID-19 restrictions in several states have come down.
Though some people still expressed hesitancy about fully removing pandemic restrictions in their communities, those views are in the clear minority.
Only 21% of survey respondents reported being very or extremely worried about a COVID-19 infection in their inner circle, which according to the Associated Press is the lowest level since the pandemic began. Just 25% said they were highly concerned that lifted restrictions will lead to additional people being infected with the virus in their community.
On the pace of reopening, 34% of Americans said COVID-19 restrictions were lifted too quickly where they live while 27% said they were not lifted quickly enough. About 4 in 10 respondents said the timing for reopening was just right.
Last year, on the advice and recommendations of public health officials like National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most states in the union adopted severe restrictions on businesses and public gatherings to limit the spread of the virus.
Businesses were ordered closed or only permitted to operate at limited capacity if they were deemed "essential" by state governments. In-person church services were discontinued to observe social distancing. Workers who had the option to work from home were encouraged to do so and many who did not have that option lost their jobs. Universal mask-wearing was enforced by law in several states and cities.
In total, the COVID-19 pandemic infected more than 33 million people and claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 people in the U.S. before vaccines for the virus finished development. Now that over half of Americans have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC, most of these restrictions have ended.
With restrictions coming down, over half of Americans are now getting back out and living their lives, saying that in the next few weeks they plan to visit family, go to open bars or restaurants, travel, exercise at a gym, attend a sporting event, or go to a movie concert, or theater.
The poll also found that Americans who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine remain hesitant to do so. Just 7% of those who are not vaccinated say they definitely will get a vaccine shot and 15% say they probably will.
A plurality of 46% of Americans who are not vaccinated say they will definitely not get a vaccine and 29% say they probably will not. According to the survey results, young adults, Americans without a college degree, white evangelicals, rural Americans and Republicans are most hesitant to get vaccinated.
The percentage of people saying they will continue to wear masks and social distance in the presence of other people has fallen over the past few months.
When the AP conducted a similar survey in February, 65% of respondents said they always wear a mask around people outside of their households. Now just 37% say they always wear masks in public. Indoors, 40% of Americans say they are extremely or very likely to wear a mask. Just 28% say they wear masks for outdoor activities.
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated Americans who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and waited two weeks after their second dose do not have to wear masks either indoors or outdoors.