August 2021 Public Sentiment: Optimistic Caution Remains
Since March 2020, we have been tracking how people feel about COVID-19 – from fear to hope – and in the coming weeks, when nearly 90% of adults will be fully vaccinated, how will this protection influence our mindset and what can we learn from other regions that opened their society and economy faster than Ireland?
Old habits die hard
It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, so if new behaviours or preferences were formed during the pandemic, it may take a lot for people to switch back to pre-Covid behaviours (if ever).
Whether it is mobility on the roads, eating out with friends or news consumption, much of the data Core has analysed has shown that behaviour levels are similar to pre-pandemic times, but that the way in which we decide about that behaviour may have changed.
There are Four Types of Re-Opening Mindsets.
Throughout the pandemic, Irish citizens have complied with public health restrictions, to protect the wider society.
However, as these restrictions lift and authorities encourage personal responsibility, to what extent will people increase their behaviour, and what will be the influencing factors?
Based on analysis of other regions that have opened sooner and on Core’s COVID-19 tracker, I believe there are four stages to people’s Re-Opening Mindset.
The first is Patience, a behaviour which most Irish people have demonstrated substantially. There are few areas where people are still patient to wait upon a re-open, but for example, many people would agree we can wait a little longer for mass public gatherings.
The second mindset is Prioritising. In August, most people hold this mindset – that is prioritising what they want to do with restrictions being lifted, rather than wanting to do everything. It differs between people (particularly by life-stage), but for most, it is to see friends and family in a simple and safe way, before any other engagement.
The third mindset is Pragmatism. Once people experience a world (protected by vaccines), they may have more confidence to engage in areas they are not prioritising, but know are practically important. This may be a meeting or an appointment which has been postponed due to restrictions.
The last mindset is Pre-emptive Partying. While there is a minority of people with this mindset, this remains to be quite rare where people compartmentalise the on-going pandemic and behave in ways that ignore public health.
In this month’s report, we begin to look ahead at a vaccinated Ireland and how we are re-engaging with the world around us.