People have been compliant and will continue to adjust to the new normal when restrictions are eased, according to psychologists.
But after being told to stay indoors for so long and make major adjustments to the way we live, some may find it difficult to go back to work, or using the outdoors for more than just essentials, with COVID-19 still playing a big part in our lives.
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Chris Cocker, a social psychologist from the University of Brighton said the public has generally adhered to the lockdown restrictions – and moving forward, most people will be able to adjust to the new normal.
He said as long as the government gives “clear and unambiguous information” to the public, people will quickly readjust, adding: “It’s about how its (the message) is presented.
“People may go nuts and think ‘wahey, I can go outside’ and that is a concern, but that is a patronising view of the public… that some people won’t understand the nuances. People can be trusted.”
Professor Clifford Stott, a professor of social psychology at Keele University, agrees.
He does not think that the easing of restrictions will lead to masses of people going outside – despite the potential of having a more “liberal relationship to social distancing”.
He told Sky News: “Polling data suggests two-thirds to three-quarters of the population are concerned about the virus, about their own risk and the risk to others.
“Even though people can come out the house… they may be reticent and fearful that they may be exposed to the virus.”
He also said that people have had a responsible attitude to COVID-19, adding that it was now up to a “broad range of stakeholders to find ways for people to socialise without increasing transmission”.
Professor Stott was surprised at how quickly the public adapted to the lockdown measures, saying: “We adapted quickly, and it will come again, perhaps with a few hiccups, but it’ll happen.”
He did admit though that middle-class people, who tend to have bigger houses and jobs that mean they can work from home and maintain an income, will have found it easier in lockdown, and that inequality could be an issue moving forward.
According to Dr James Davies, a psychotherapist from the University of Roehampton, people’s individual reactions to the lifting of measures will entirely depend on how they feel during the lockdown.
He said: “If you found work boring and you struggled to get up in the morning – lockdown was maybe a relief… certainly if you’ve been furloughed.
“They might have time on their hands… and been able to take some time away so going back to work may be difficult.
“Far more difficult for those running small businesses and who are desperate to get back.”
Dr Davies added: “There is an anxiety of where we might be in six to 12 months, so there could be collective relief helped by the realisation that unless we do get back towards normality, the economics may leave us in a difficult position.”
He also said that the suffering that individuals are going through is a “natural response to a tricky situation” and the response to that should be rooted in policy, rather than medicine.