Life after lockdown: 6 things South Africans have learned after weeks of restrictions
Viacom global insights recently undertook a study of 506 South Africans to gauge their understanding of and response to the current COVID-19 crisis. This poll was conducted amongst Viacom International Media Network Africa’s online communities, and is thus representative of our viewership, rather than South African society as a whole.
- Trust in the government was at an all-time high, but probably not for long. The South African government had been praised on international stages for its quick intervention in the COVID-19 crisis, moving the country into strict lockdown measures within two weeks of the first local cases. This swift action has earned the government a high level of trust amongst respondents with 40% saying they are very confident in government’s response to the outbreak, and 39% saying they are somewhat confident. At the same time, when asked how long they expect the crisis to last, 43% of respondents indicated it would take 2-3 months to have the virus under control. However, in his weekly letter to the nation, President Ramaphosa indicated coronavirus could affect South African society for up to a year.
- Confidence in interventions is high, but so is anxiety. While government trust was at peak during lockdown this sentiment could be shifting as South Africans become increasingly anxious about the impact the virus will have on the economy. Of those polled, 99% said they are worried about the financial impact and subsequent job losses that lockdown will have on the economy, while 52% indicated they don’t have enough savings to make it through the month of April. Just 11% of those polled have enough saved to survive for the next three months.
- Human interaction has been most missed, and most valued, during this time. Of those polled, the lockdown restriction most strongly felt (53%) was that which limited human interaction – being able to see friends and family. Respondents also indicated that they really missed ordering fast foods in lockdown (34%). Besides this, respondents were asked what they liked least about being in isolation; answers included being indoors most of the time (39%) and running out of things to do (37%).
- Families have drawn closer together, in education, chores and TV habits. While interaction with other people has been one of the most greatly missed experiences, those who had self-isolated with their families, used this time to draw closer together, with 50% of respondents indicating that the best thing about being in isolation was getting to spend more time with family, while simple activities such as baking and cooking, presumably together, have increased at 27%. Parents also made use of the time to better understand their children’s education, with 53% of parents helping children with their school work. They also saw more of the content their kids consume: 48% of parents surveyed said they spend more time watching their children’s choice of TV programme in lockdown, and many respondents indicated their pleasure at discovering how entertaining (71%) and educational (60%) their children’s choice of programmes are.
- This familial closeness is one of the lessons many would like to take with them into the future. When asked about the benefits they would like to carry over to life after lockdown, 30% respondents indicated that they would like to continue to spend more quality time with their families. Many adults indicated they’d also like to take better care of their health (42%), and continue taking time to be more reflective (14%).
- Society won’t be the same after this; here’s what it could look like when SA emerges. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave an indelible mark on South African society, and not necessarily for the better, as many small businesses and families feel the economic pressure of a nation-wide shut down.
At the same time, based on the responses of the VIMN Africa audience, we can draw some conclusions about how families in particular will change their habits in the future.
This could include greater involvement in their children’s education as a result of increased home-based learning through school closures, increased attempts at healthy living as many maintain home exercise routines and cut out takeaways and dining out, and less emphasis on material assets. Many families have found value in enjoying simple pleasures together during this time including cooking, chores, and watching tv together, as well as being more introspective.
And as many respondents expressed that they really missed human interaction during the national lockdown, we could see a South African society emerging from this crisis which puts greater emphasis on caring for our fellow humans, rather than the pursuit of experiences or material possessions.