Lockdown fatigue could undermine New Zealand’s social cohesion and early gains in fighting Covid-19, experts say.
Associate Professor Susanna Trnka, lead author a primary level 4 studies, said the public mood has shifted for several reasons since last year’s national shutdown.
“There is a feeling at a time of ‘this is a crisis’. In extraordinary times, people are going to do extraordinary things,” said the University of Auckland social anthropologist.
He said the expanded cooperation over the last 4 levels last year was partly because many people had urged the Government to initiate the lockdown.
Recent restrictions are partly attributed to alleged violation of self-isolation guidelines in several community cases recently, leading to the closure of all four Aucklands.
Now, Trnka says lockdown fatigue may be a factor.
“It doesn’t seem too urgent and not too urgent,” said Trnka.
He said the dangers of complacency might explain why the Prime Minister yesterday reminded New Zealand: “Covid kills people.”
After a nationwide lockdown, New Zealand has been praised for its pandemic response.
But the vaccine is not yet administered locally on a large scale, and in recent weeks Auckland has been oscillating from lockdown.
Trnka said complacency, coupled with fatigue from locks, could jeopardize the success of current locks.
“You often fall right before you reach the finish line.”
Trnka and co-authors found successfully locked level 4 comes from citizen participation, not from a large police presence or a show of force.
But Trnka said the current behavior of Auckland residents looked different from the first lockdown, based on his observations since yesterday morning.
“No social distancing. Nobody is wearing a mask.”
Fatigue or fatigue from lockdown, and its different effects on different people, have been identified in various studies.
A German study published Feb. 21 in the International Journal of Psychology found women with children working from home during lockdown when childcare was not available. very tired.
In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority last week identified locking fatigue as a major risk to staff and business.
Prof Richard Porter of the University of Otago says moving in and out of lockdowns can severely impact mental health.
“One of the aspects of severe mental illness that we are interested in is disruption of repetitive routines,” said the consultant psychiatrist.
Porter says lockdowns can disrupt normal circadian rhythms honed by a person’s working hours and other daily routines or obligations.
He said this was a concern especially for people with severe mood disorders, depression and bipolar mood disorder.
Porter says people struggling with fatigue or locking disorders should try their best to develop consistent sleeping, exercise and socializing habits.
He said socializing during the lockdown might mean Zoom’s calls are scheduled regularly.
“Social cohesion remains high compared to many similar countries,” said the esteemed sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley.
But with each episode of lockout, the “fatigue factor” meant less cohesion, he said.
Spoonley, of Massey University, said Google’s mobility data showed very high adherence to travel rules during the level 4 lockout.
Compliance falls on the second and third locks.
Spoonley believes many non-English speakers are not getting an adequate message about the Covid-19 rules and guidelines.
He agrees with ward council member Manurewa Efeso Collins’ concerns about inadequate information arriving in homes where English is not the first language.
Collins told Newstalk ZB that community leaders, church leaders and social institutions have sought to educate residents where the central government’s message is not getting through.
Trnka also said that the Government faces challenges in communicating lockdown and self-isolation rules and guidelines.
He said the authorities should provide clear guidance on an unprecedented crisis without subjecting people to information overload.
The public needs to understand the pandemic, but adding lexicons like “casual plus contact” can confuse people, Trnka said.
A variation of the existing four-level warning system, with terms such as “Level 2.5“Being used in Auckland last September could also mess up the message, Trnka said.
He said the challenge arose from information dissemination where cultural customs deviated from what is commonly seen as mainstream.
“Translating is not just a linguistic translation. It’s in a way that makes sense culturally.”
He said one study found terms like “bubble” used in the battle against Covid-19 can cause unexpected confusion in translation.
“What they found is that even if you translate ‘lockdown’ into the local language, it doesn’t always make sense.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today encouraged people to talk with their loved ones and colleagues about complying with Covid-19 health advice.