People are lockdown-weary and getting reckless, professor says

People walking, jogging and walking their dogs on Sea Point's promenade, 1 May 2020. Picture: Twitter / @NMadzenga

However, ‘I do not think that people are woefully irresponsible, but we are dealing with a combination of factors,’ said professor Ashraf Kagee.

People are tired of the lockdown and weary of all the restrictions which have been placed upon them – and that’s why some of them are acting in a reckless way and helping cause a spike in coronavirus infections.

Stellenbosch University psychology professor Ashraf Kagee said: “The fact that human beings are social animals and need to interact with each other is something that should not be taken lightly.

“The other factors are that this virus is invisible, something that you cannot touch or feel.

“In some people’s minds, it is an abstract concept and there might be a sense that the minister of health is exaggerating the need to adhere to social distancing.”

He said that although Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was “being realistic”in his assessment of the situation, “for some people it is exaggeration – that they do not need to take him seriously”.

However, it was a fact that structural problems in society, poor communities living in overcrowded conditions in informal settlements, made social distancing difficult.

“Living with many other people in the same dwelling makes the home not necessarily the easiest place to be,” said Kagee. “Outside in the streets, it may be easier from the logistical, physical point of view. If you live in a shack, which is not a well-built structure with limited access to resources, staying at home may be a challenge.”

However, he added, “socially engaging with other people is what many people may find soothing”.

“I do not think that people are woefully irresponsible, but we are dealing with a combination of factors.”

While government was at the forefront of public education on the virus, Kagee said messaging was “not enough”.

“I wish our government would take people into their confidence in a more sustained manner on logic and reasons of certain of the regulations imposed on them.

“Some of these rules make no sense. Telling people that they can buy certain kinds of T-shirts and types of shoes, has to be backed by logic.

“The government must accept that the public is intelligent, critical and thinking.

“People want to know the reasoning for some of these rules.”

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