About two-thirds of Scots approve of the Scottish Government’s communication during the pandemic, though hardly any can name all the elements of the “FACTS” acronym, a poll has found.
While 66.2% of respondents felt the government in Edinburgh was doing a good job communicating its pandemic decisions, only 27.2% felt the same way about the UK Government.
There was a similar split when respondents were asked about the issues of lockdown and reopening – 52% said the Scottish Government was doing a good job in this regard while only 22.7% said the same of the UK Government.
The margin was tighter on the issue of vaccines, with 64.% saying the Scottish Government were doing a good job and 54.7% saying the same of the UK Government.
Less than 2% of Scots were able to name what all five letters of the FACTS acronym stood for – Face coverings, Avoid crowded places, Clean hands regularly, Two-metre distance, Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.
YouGov polled about 1,259 Scots between December 3 and 10.
It is the first in a series of regular polls which will be carried out for researchers behind the Scottish Election Study. The series will be called the Scottish Opinion Monitor (Scoop).
Dr Fraser McMillan, of Glasgow University, said: “These findings suggest that key aspects of Scottish Government messaging during earlier periods of Covid restrictions missed the mark.
“Public health communication should ideally be clear and concise, and FACTS was neither.
“While the slogan might have served as a useful general reminder to exercise caution, our Scoop data shows that the acronym was overcomplicated and ambiguous.
“We hope the Scottish Government will take this into account if and when similar messaging is required in future.”
Dr Jac Larner, another researcher with the Scottish Election Study, said: “Even when decisions about the imposition of lockdown and opening up has been remarkably similar across the UK as a whole, Scottish voters judge the same decisions more positively if they’re enacted in Edinburgh than if those same decisions are made in London.
“This shows that these evaluations of government performance are at least to some extent influenced by prior political preferences.”
The researchers said the public appeared to have a nuanced view of Covid restrictions, varying depending on the perceived severity of the crisis.
Some 46% of respondents said they would agree with the closure of schools and hospitality or a full lockdown if the Covid situation grew “a lot worse”.
Meanwhile, 36% said there should “never again” be a full lockdown.
Professor Ailsa Henderson said: “These results show that the public is not resistant in principle to various Covid restrictions.
“Support varies across policies, with different measures seen as more appropriate as the situation changes.”
She continued: “The results also show a public with nuanced policy positions on things like school closures and lockdowns and a general acceptance that restrictions are right and necessary if introduced at the right time.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The FACTS campaign has been very successful in helping people to stay safe and suppress the virus.
“Our public information activity is constantly evaluated using public insights, and this evaluation determines what campaigns run at any time.”