Poll: COVID restrictions ‘about right;’ majority wants masks in schools

Students in masks walk in a line with their arms out in front of them.
Students at Wildwood Elementary practice a "zombie walk" to maintain social distance on their way to the cafeteria in Stillwater, Minn., on Sept. 10, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

Despite occasional loud protests and objections to COVID-19 restrictions, a new statewide poll shows only 30 percent of registered Minnesota voters said coronavirus restrictions have gone too far. Forty-three percent say the restrictions have been about right, and 26 percent said they haven’t gone far enough.

“Personally, I feel like I wish we were in a situation where they wouldn’t have to be mandated, people would just have enough sense to do it,” said poll respondent Jennifer Grubba of Otsego, Minn., who generally supports restrictions. “But I do feel like depending on a person’s job it might make sense to mandate it.”

Graph of views on COVID restrictions

A statewide mask mandate ended last spring, but some individual communities, businesses and schools continue to require masks. And some employers are requiring proof of vaccination.

Randy Frick, a poll respondent from Prior Lake, Minn., believes restrictions have gone too far. He’s especially opposed to vaccine requirements.

“Well, I think the government is just taking over. A power grab is what it is,” Frick said. “If they get to control people over this, what will the next thing [be] that they deem an emergency and they say you have to come up with some mandate?” 

The poll of 800 Minnesota registered voters found most — 80 percent — have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 18 percent say they haven't had a shot. 

Graph of reported COVID-19 vaccination status
Self-reported COVID-19 vaccination status by demographic group

And those who haven't been vaccinated are almost universally against vaccine mandates. 

Their strong opposition helps drive a split in support of vaccination requirements. Overall, half of poll respondents oppose a requirement for people to be vaccinated to go to a bar or restaurant. Forty-four percent support it.

Forty-nine percent of those polled oppose a requirement for people to be vaccinated to return to their workplaces, while 43 percent support it.

Opinions shifted some when it comes to vaccination requirements to attend crowded events, including concerts and movies. In that scenario, 49 percent support it, compared to 45 percent opposed.

Graph of vaccine mandate support by vaccination status

Phil Jones, a poll respondent from Minneapolis, is among those who support such rules.

“It feels more comfortable now knowing that there are event spaces that have chosen to have their own vaccine policies,” Jones said. “I feel more comfortable going into spaces that have those established.”

Minnesotans offered an even more supportive view of mask requirements in schools. Of those polled, 59 percent said they support requiring teachers and students to wear face masks, compared to 35 percent who are opposed.

Allison Horner of Minneapolis believes masks in schools are a good idea.

“I have a kindergartner, and I have a preschooler,” Horner said. “Both of them wear masks at their school every day, which I highly support. It’s not that difficult to teach a small child how to wear and keep on a mask.”

Graph of views on COVID-19 restrictions by demographic

The poll shows strong confidence in the vaccine. Seventy-two percent were either very or somewhat confident of the vaccine’s ability to protect against variants of the virus. Another 26 percent were either not too confident or not at all confident. 

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted its telephone interviews from Sept. 13 through 15. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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