A server wears a protective face mask as he passes a coffee to a customer in Vancouver, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A server wears a protective face mask as he passes a coffee to a customer in Vancouver, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

What happens if B.C. re-enters a COVID lockdown? Psychologist says we’ll be OK

UBC professor says cooperation between health officials, politicians has kept pandemic messaging simple

As health officials ask British Columbians to begin restriction their social interactions, a psychologist believes the province can handle another semi-lockdown.

“I think there will be a grumbling acceptance. People will say ‘okay, we’ve got to do this,’” said Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and psychiatry professor at UBC.

“Most people will; there will inevitably be a small minority of people who are going to not adhere to this.”

Taylor said people shouldn’t be surprised to hear health officials ask them to shrink social circles they may have expanded this summer. B.C. hit a record 124 COVID-19 new cases on Friday, and 294 over the weekend, even as cases began to level off this week.

READ MORE: 1,100 active COVID-19 cases in B.C. following continued surge over weekend

Speaking Monday (Aug. 31), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. was entering a new stage of the pandemic.

“The increase in the number of new cases we have seen over the past few weeks remains a concern for all of us,” Henry said.

She said that while the summer months – which saw B.C. loosen restrictions and allow non-essential travel for the first time since March – were good for people’s mental health, it was time to slow down again.

“We’ve talked many times that we will likely have a second wave,” Henry said, adding that it would likely coincide with the annual cold and flu season.

“As the cooler weather arrives, we all have to be ready… as we step into our offices, our workplaces, our schools, we need to take a step back from some of the social interactions we have had this summer.”

Taylor said that although recent events – like a controversial back-to-school commercial with Henry – may have undermined public trust a bit, British Columbians are still largely understanding of their message.

READ MORE: Teachers’ union slams B.C.’s return-to-school plan; says ad with Dr. Henry is ‘unrealistic’

Unlike the U.S., where the pandemic has become a political issue, the psychologist said that here politicians have moved in lockstep with public health officials, rather than against them.

“The whole issue of adherence to public health measures has become a politicized, from wearing a mask to whether you should open up the community… in the United States, you’ve got this whole ‘give me liberty or give me death’ approach,” Taylor said.

It’s also important to remember that health officials shouldn’t be idolized.

“We put health officials like Dr. Bonnie Henry up on a pedestal,” he said. “We regard them as infallible superheroes, which they’re not; they’re just experts trying to do their best under conditions of uncertainty,

But the way B.C.’s health officials present the new lockdown will be key.

“If they make this more predictable and controllable, then that’s what makes things less stressful,” he said.

“You know, something like ‘the more more you adhere to this, the better our chances of getting over this.’”

For people concerned about cutting off social interactions, especially as the weather worsens, Taylor said to remember that B.C. has gotten through this before.

“None of us want to be here… but it won’t be foreign territory.”

That should help people avoid some of the pitfalls of the first lockdown – panic-buying toilet paper and baking supplies – while providing a template for what did help.

READ MORE: Amid COVID-19 panic, B.C. psychologist urges shoppers to not clear out grocery stores

“People should ask themselves ‘what went well in lockdown last time? What didn’t go so well?’” Taylor said, while reminding themselves that while getting together might seem like a good way to blow off steam, it will only hurt in the long run.

“It’s going to be wintertime. If people choose to go out and party, it will be in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces which is just a recipe for the spread of infection… that’s just going to prolong the pandemic and prolong lockdown for everyone.”

Taylor said routines, planning activities, getting outside and staying active will all be essential to getting through the next months.

“We focus on how badly people are doing, or how anxious or irritable or depressed they are,” he said. “Some of us may be distressed or bummed out… but those feelings should pass for most people. People tend to be very resilient.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

British ColumbiaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The current state of the Royal Hotel. (Photo Contributed by Richard Leeks)
‘No one is willing to step up to take any responsibility’: Royal owners plow on with renovictions

Heat, kitchen appliances, doors, running water and WiFi have been allegedly removed

RDEK reminds public to register for their emergency notification system. File photo.
RDEK reminds residents to register for East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System

Provincial Alert system cannot be used for local emergencies

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
City of Fernie: New orders a challenge, but community is supportive

Mayor Qualizza said that the new public health orders were an opportunity to safeguard the winter season

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

2020
Urban wildlife Part VI: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser throughout 2020. Part VI.

Most Read