Legal impediments gone, psychological obstacles still there

di Priscilla Pajdo del 24 June 2020

TORONTO - There doors are finally open. Are we prepared to cross the threshold and return to normal? How likely are we to resume daily activities we used to take for granted, such as visiting with family and friends, shopping, exercising at the gym, going to performances and other occasions of public togetherness”.

The New York Times interviewed 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists (from Canada and USA) and asked how long it would take them before they might to resume such daily activities as listed in these graphs. In other words, when would they resume “old habits”? They answered based on their personal circumstances, risk factors and took into consideration the pandemic response plans in respective local areas (values are rounded).

The activities this group of experts are most likely to resume within three months (represented by the colour pink) is illustrated in graph 1.

The green portion represents activities that would take from 3-12 months to resume. The blue section illustrates the activities that would likely take over oneyear resume. The yellow segment, reflects activities that will likely never resume. One activity that many would do without a second thought pre-pandemic was to collect the mail. Of those polled, 64% said that they would bring in the mail without precautions within the next three months.

It would take up to one year for 16% to carry out this activity without precaution while 17% said it would take over one year.

Due to changing attitudes, 3% said they would likely never bring in the mail without taking precaution. As we move forward in the next phase, 41% of those polled would seek out their barber or hairstylist within the next three months while 39% would wait up to one year before seeking a haircut.

Graph 2 illustrates the predictability of activities that would take up to one year to resume.

With summer upon us and September just a couple months away, 55% said it would take up to one year before they would send their kids to school or camp. Close behind that, 54% said that it would take up to one year to work in a shared office space. After being on lockdown for four months, one might have thought that they would be anxious to return to the routine of exercising at the gym. It seems caution will prevail.

Of those polled, 42% said it would take up to one year to go back, while 40% said it would take more than one year to revisit the gym.

The final graph is a collection of activities that will likely require more than one year to resume (graph 3).

Sixty-four percent (64%) of those medical experts responded by saying it would take over one year to resume activities such as attending a sporting event or a concert. Health experts recommend wearing a face coving when not able to keep a two-meter distance, 52% said it would take over one year before they would stop wearing one as a routine activity. The common hand shake or hug when greeting friends will take longer than one year to resume, while 6% said this is an activity they will likely never do again.

It appears that some people can drop “old habits”. What’s next?

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