It’s frustrating but important.
That’s how Ireland is feeling about the prolonged period of coronavirus restrictions, according to the latest data from the Public Opinion Tracking Survey Research conducted by Amárach and the new Social Activity Measure by the ESRI/Department of the Taoiseach.
A further 687 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed yesterday, 32 of which were in Cork. There was one additional death.
However, new figures from the Health Service Executive show the lockdown is having an effect; the number of patients battling the virus in hospital has dropped below 500 for the first time in 2021.
“In the last 24 hours, we have had no new admissions to critical care, the first time this has happened since St. Stephen’s Day.” said Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, the Department of Health.
“This is one more tangible signal of the efforts that people continue to make and how those efforts are impacting positively on the trajectory of Covid-19 in Ireland. Please stick with this over the coming weeks.”
‘Tough, but worth it’
The evidence shows that while people are finding it tough going, the large majority (79%) believe that preventing the spread of Covid-19 is more important than the burden of restrictions.
“Just 10% disagree,” said Professor Pete Lunn, Head of the Behavioural Research Unit, ESRI.
“This pattern helps to explain how measures of compliance have been rising in recent weeks and months, despite the frustrations that people feel. Just because we feel a particular way, does not mean that this feeling dictates our behaviour. Rather, the large majority of people in Ireland support the restrictions and are sticking to them, despite the frustrations.
Misperceptions are rife
The data also show systematic misperceptions about social activity.
“Presently, half the adult population does not meet up with anyone outside their household over a 48-hour period, with less than one quarter meeting up with three or more. Yet these more socially active people believe that they are meeting fewer people than average,” said Lunn.
“There is a clear misperception. Most people believe that others are enjoying more of a social life than they are. Those who are in fact most socially active do not realise this. The finding is important, and we need to try to correct this misperception. When people appreciate the effort being made by others, they typically become more likely to follow.”