Two-thirds of New Zealanders believed that there were “silver linings” for locking COVID-19 at the level of a warning in the country imposed in March last year, a study by the University of Otago showed.
Researchers were able to interrogate New Zealanders while they were at home, giving a unique insight into their lives during the nationwide blockade between March 25 and April 23, which is considered one of the strictest imposed anywhere in the world.
One year after the lock, the results of their study were published in an international scientific journal, PLOS ONE.
Participants were asked “Did you experience any silver plating or positive aspects during the COVID-19 level 4 lock” and were able to answer “yes, for me personally” and / or “yes for the wider society” or not. Of the 2,010 participants who completed the online survey, 64 percent said they could see the silver lining to lock it.
Principal Investigator Dr. Matthew Jenkins says New Zealanders talked about a wide range of positive experiences during the lockout, from pride in the country’s reaction, to more free time to exercise, pursue hobbies or build relationships with their neighbors.
Locking was a major flashpoint in people’s lives and created an opportunity to stop, stock up and think and connect with others. Many people reported that kindness and helping became more common during this period. They described “an old-fashioned sense of togetherness and concern that was not apparent before the lock”. “
Dr. Matthew Jenkins, lead researcher at the University of Otago
Increased flexibility in working from home and shortened time spent at work have often been mentioned as one of the silver locking linings, allowing people to spend more time with their families.
Due to existing social distancing measures, technology has become a major way for people to socialize and work through online services such as video conferencing. One participant reported that “they have to talk to my dad, who lives abroad, on a daily basis” and another joined a global group. for knitting online to maintain social interactions. “
Others reported the pride they felt over the country’s reaction to the pandemic, with one comment, “we may be a small country, but we are doing an amazing job”.
“There was a heightened sense of national unity, which one participant expressed as ‘… brought together New Zealanders, united in our shared COVID experience.'”
Participants also discussed the respite that locking offered for the environment, with one noting that there was “less air and nature pollution (there was) to rest from the people destroying it” and another enjoying “listening to the birds how they sing “.
Dr. Jenkins says the research offers valuable insight into what types of support could help people survive and thrive in adverse circumstances.
“Our findings show that in times of turmoil, unrest and psychological distress, many people still found silver linings. We also assume that, despite the impact of locking, many people met their psychological needs for social cohesion and autonomy, and these probably influenced compliance with locking measures. .
“Identifying these silver plaques will help governments and mental health professionals recognize the support needed to help people survive and thrive during long-term and stressful events, such as pandemics and locks.”
Jenkins, M., and others. (2021) Silver COVID-19 lock linings in New Zealand. Plos ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249678.