| 2020-2021

Trust, Legitimacy and Intended Compliance with COVID-19 Exit Strategy Measures


  • Covid-19 en exit-maatregelen: Een surveyexperiment over de percepties van burgers over overheidsmaatregelen na de piek van de eerste Covid-19 golf (only available in Dutch)


Although intrusive Covid-19 lockdown measures were legitimate in the initial stages of the crisis, the overriding call for stringent measures is gradually dissipating. Citizens increasingly demand that exit-strategies are developed with sufficient regard for their socio-economic interests, while potential infringements of fundamental rights, such as free movement, privacy and fair competition, and legal principles such as equality and proportionality lead to increasing criticism of and even litigation against government measures. While current strategies are primarily based on epidemiological and medical research, the growing relevance of social and legal factors for the development of exit-strategies implies that new data and knowledge is urgently needed. In particular, insights into the conditions under which Covid-19 measures are socially legitimate, legally sound, and stimulate citizen compliance is necessary to develop sustainable exit-strategies. Our project fills the lack of scientific and policy-relevant knowledge of social and legal factors in Covid-19 exit-strategies by using the following double approach 1) three vignette surveys examine how intended compliance and legitimacy of combinations of proposed Belgian Covid-19 measures is influenced by framing on underlying public health, social and legal concerns 2) and a systematic legal analysis aims at generating new insights on new measures’ legality and provide essential input for the design of the vignette surveys. Continuous communication to governments of research findings from the vignette surveys and legal analysis to will provide policy-relevant input on new measures, allowing governments to make informed and balanced decisions on their exit-strategies, and providing support in the prevention of non-compliance to or litigation against Covid-19 measures.


  • University of Antwerp Research Fund (BOF)

Project team

All researchers on this project are part of the University of Antwerp and the GOVTRUST Centre of Excellence.



  • Koen Verhoest (research group Politics & Public Governance)
  • Carolyn Declerck (Antwerp Centre of Evolutionary Demography (ACED))
  • Michel Walrave (research group Media en ICT in Organisaties en Samenleving (MIOS))
  • Esther van Zimmeren (research group Government & Law)
  • Peter Bursens (research group Politics & Public Governance)