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Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: The last question only includes 589 employed respondents; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Most Americans aren't willing to make big changes in their behavior to minimize the risk from the Omicron variant, like avoiding indoor restaurant dining or cancelling their holiday travel plans, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

The big picture: The poll found support for some broader public responses, including one — travel bans aimed at people from other countries — that was widely supported by people across the political spectrum. But it found that Americans are only willing to do so much on their own.

  • The poll shows "how much the behavior is already baked in" at this late stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Americans mainly interested in ways to adapt so they can keep living their lives, Ipsos senior vice president Chris Jackson said.
  • "New facts don't seem to be changing people. They've already decided what they're going to do, and they're doing it."

By the numbers: Only about a third of Americans say they're likely to stop dining indoors at restaurants in response to the new variant, and fewer than one-in-four say they're likely to cancel holiday travel plans.

  • Likewise, only a little more than one in four say they'll skip gatherings with friends and families outside of their households.
  • A majority of Americans are willing to wear masks indoors in public at all times in response to Omicron. But naturally, that hides huge partisan differences: 82% of Democrats are willing to do so, but just 38% of Republicans are.

Between the lines: The poll found that while most Americans have heard of the Omicron variant, many don't know a lot about it yet.

  • Just 47% said they were very or somewhat familiar with the new variant, while another 47% said they've heard of it but know almost nothing about it.

What to watch: Larger numbers of Americans are open to broad public responses to Omicron, like businesses requiring customers to wear masks indoors (69%), travel bans to keep people from other countries from entering the U.S. (67%), and local governments requiring masks in all indoor public places (65%).

  • Some of those responses have massive partisan differences too, like private business mask mandates (94% of Democrats support them to respond to Omicron, vs. just 43% of Republicans) and local government mask mandates (93% of Democrats vs. 34% of Republicans).
  • But there are no big partisan differences on travel bans for people from other countries: 72% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans support that. (There's less support for travel bans to keep U.S. citizens from coming home: 45% overall, including 54% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans.)
  • And about two thirds of Americans (67%) say they'd support airlines requiring proof of COVID vaccination to let passengers fly — something U.S. airlines aren't doing.
  • One thing Americans will not support: another round of lockdowns. Just 35% said they'd support temporary lockdowns and business closures to fight Omicron.

Methodology: This poll was conducted Dec. 3–6 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,021 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ± 3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require vaccine or test for indoor dining

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New vaccine-or-test requirements for indoor dining and drinking in Minneapolis and St. Paul take effect Wednesday.

The big picture: A growing number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have instituted similar requirements in an effort to protect public health.

Yes, but: Questions about enforcement, logistics and effectiveness of the temporary measures here remain.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.