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The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the Norwegian population

With responses from the Norwegian Citizen Panel, researchers at the University of Bergen have found that the restrictions on social life and interaction have been the most burdensome.

Three people sitting socially distanced among trees. Two of them in lawn chairs and the last in a hammock.

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The article by Bjørn Sætrevik, Sebastian B. Bjørkheim, and Kristin Bærøe presents what corona restrictions have had the biggest impact on the Norwegian population. The findings are a result of the PANDRISK-project, where psychological research is applied to investigate how people react to a pandemic outbreak.

The researchers have analysed NCP responses from January and February of 2021. The respondents were asked to what degree different infection control measures have been burdensome or a worry for them during the corona pandemic. We have experienced a wide variety of restrictions in the past two years and the researchers warn that restrictions that are too exhausting can result in people not being willing to follow them. There is a difference between what restrictions are experienced as burdensome, and what groups of people regard them as such. The article highlights that these variations stem from the difference in restrictions, the impact of individuals’ life situations and the varying degree of burden of the measures.

In general, few of the restrictions are very burdensome for most people. Under 10 % of people report the restrictions to be burdensome to a “large” or to a “very large extent”. Out of the population, 56 % found the social restrictions to be burdensome. Travel restrictions were almost as highly reported, at 45 %. Closed schools and kindergartens were found to be a larger burden on adults with children of relevant age. Here, 51 % of parents found the education restrictions burdensome, in contrast to those adults without children, where only 8 % reported the same. Difference of opinion between the age groups was also prominent. Where 36 % of those under 30 years old thought home office was troublesome, while 8 % of those over 60 years meant the same.

The researchers highlight that we are more inclined to withstand restrictions that impact our daily routines. When it comes to restrictions that allow us to break out of these routines, we become less patient. With this, Sætrevik, Bjørkheim, and Bærøe propose that burdensome restrictions are applied on our adaptable, daily lives, instead of the rare, but joyful, activities and events.

You can read the full article in Norwegian here.