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Irish people are happier and reporting higher levels of enjoyment than at any other point in 2021

The findings were contained in an opinion poll carried out yesterday.

Image: Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

IRISH PEOPLE ARE reporting levels of enjoyment and happiness not yet seen in 2021, with a new poll showing that the highest proportion of the public now believes the worst of the pandemic is now over.

Opinion polling carried out for the Department of Health yesterday also reveals that compliance with Covid-19 recommendations has fallen slightly to pre-Christmas levels.

A survey of 2,200 adults across the country by Amárach Research has found that less than half (48%) of people say they are ‘very much’ complying with recommendations by the Department of Health and the HSE – down from 60% in February.

Although general levels of compliance remain high, the average level of adherence to recommendations reported by respondents in this week’s opinion poll has decreased.

Each week, respondents are asked on a scale of 1 to 7 (where 1 is ‘not at all’ and 7 is ‘very much’) to what extent they follow the recommendations set out by health officials.

This week, the average score given by all those who took part in the survey was 6.2, a score last recorded on 21 December.

However, the overwhelming majority of people are say they are still using hand sanitiser and socially distancing in queues (both 95%), as well as washing their hands (93%) and coughing into their elbow (80%).

And although the number of people who say they are staying at home rather than going out has steadily fallen from almost nine in ten (88%) in January, more than four in five (81%) say they are still doing so.

Amarach recommendations Source: Amárach Research/Department of Health

Amarach safe behaviours Source: Department of Health

Elsewhere, the survey found that nearly half (45%) of people reported feelings of enjoyment in recent days, with one in three (33%) also reporting feelings of happiness.

The last time polling showed these levels of enjoyment or happiness was on 21 December, when 47% and 34% of respondents reported feeling those emotions respectively.

Meanwhile, one in five people (20%) also reported feeling hopeful in recent days, the highest proportion since this option was first included in polling in November.

In contrast, one in three people (33%) polled yesterday reported feelings of worry and one in four reported feeling sad (26%), the lowest proportion of each since December.

Levels of stress (35%), loneliness (23%) and anger (17%) have also fallen since peaking in February, although more than one in three people (36%) reported feeling frustrated – a level consistent with polling carried out in recent weeks.

Amarach pos Source: Amárach Research/Department of Health

Amarach neg Source: Amárach Research/Department of Health

Yesterday’s survey shows that overall worry about Covid-19 is continuing to fall.

As in other weeks, respondents were asked to rate their feelings of worry related to the coronavirus on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is ‘not at all worried’ and 10 is ‘extremely worried’.

The average score among the 2,200 participants in the poll was 6, a drop from 6.3 last week and a figure last seen on 14 December (and before that, early July when daily case numbers were in single figures or low double digits).

Concerns about personal health, the well-being of family and friends and the capacity of Ireland’s health system have fallen in recent weeks, but other worries related to the current level of restrictions remain.

Respondents were asked to rate their feelings of worry as a result of certain things on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘not at all’ and 5 is ‘a great deal’.

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Asked how worried they were about the prospect of prolonged restrictions, the survey’s participants gave an average score of 3.5, consistent with the average score in recent weeks.

Similarly, participants gave an average score of 3.3 when asked how worried they were about reduced social contact, also consistent with the average score in recent weeks.

Both of these average scores remain at levels not seen at any other point in the pandemic. 

Amarach worry Source: Amárach Research/Department of Health

Despite this, almost half of respondents (48%) said they believed the worst of the pandemic in Ireland is now behind us – more than those who believe it is happening now (30%) or that the worst is still to come (8%).

A similar number of people (49%) believe the government’s response is appropriate, a proportion which has been consistent since Ireland entered its third lockdown in January.

And more than two in five (43%) people say Ireland is trying to return to normal at ‘about the right pace’, though the number of people who say this is happening ‘a bit too slowly’ (21%) and ‘much too slowly’ (11%) are at their highest-ever levels.

Commenting on the findings of the poll at a briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team last night, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said it was “no surprise” that the pandemic had impacted people’s mental health.

However, he said this was more of a reason to adhere to restrictions in the coming months.

“We are heading into a new and much brighter phase in how we’re dealing with this pandemic and the worst of it can be behind us,” he said.

“We need to keep it going over the next couple of months. We need to continue the improvement that we’ve seen.”

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