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Increasing public anger over prolonged restrictions

AS the latest government pronouncements indicate a continuation of Level 5 for many more weeks people are demonstrating higher levels of frustration and anger than at any stage since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
Opinion polling carried out for the Department of Health shows that an increasing proportion of people believe Ireland is returning to normal too slowly, and that reduced social contact and prolonged restrictions are causing increasing levels of worry. Against this background some public figures are encouraging the government to purchase vaccines through other channels to boost the roll-out process and accelerate re-opening of the economy.
A survey of 2,200 adults across the country by Amárach Research earlier this week reveals that nearly half (44%) of people reported feeling frustrated in recent days, with two in five people (40%) also saying they felt stressed.
Three in ten people (31%) reported feeling sad in recent days – a level not seen since last April – with almost the same amount (28%) saying they felt lonely.
In contrast, the number of people who reported feeling happy (29%) reached its lowest point since polling began last March.
The polling also showed that the biggest sources of worry continue to be the economy, the health of family and friends, and fears that the health service could be overloaded. However, worries about the prospect of prolonged restrictions and reduced social contact have climbed in recent weeks, and are now at levels which haven’t been seen since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, the proportion of the population that believes the government’s response to the pandemic is appropriate (44%) is also lower than at any point since last March.
More people (16%) than ever before now think the government’s response is too extreme, while two in five (40%) also believe the government’s response is insufficient.
And although the highest proportion of people (39%) believe that Ireland is returning to normal at the right pace, a higher proportion than ever before believe the country is moving too slowly, with almost one in three (31%) holding a version of this view.
Around two in five people (21%) surveyed think that Ireland is moving ‘a bit too slowly’, with a further one in ten (10%) believing things are moving ‘much too slowly’.
However, the exact same proportion of people believe that Ireland is re-opening too fast (31%).
One in five say the country is returning to normal ‘a bit too quickly’ (21%), with one in ten believing this is happening ‘much too quickly’ (10%), although combined support for these views has also fallen to its lowest level since last summer.
Earlier this week, also, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath told RTÉ radio that current restrictions on socialising and the economy needed to be in place “for the last time” and that government knows that people are growing “weary” of the pandemic.