Covid-19: will barrier measures remain in our lives after the pandemic?

Wearing a mask, physical distancing … After the health crisis, it will not be so easy to let go of certain habits, say specialists.

“”It there it is, it’s over, you can kiss ”: the day I say these words, I assure you that I will be a happy prime minister “. Tuesday evening, during his interview in Matignon, Jean Castex projects himself into a post-Covid free from any hygienic constraint. However, there are some questions from some French people. After a year and a half (at least) of a health crisis, rewelling, coming out without a mask and crowding into a crowd will not be easy for everyone … “For me, things have changed forever, there will be no more effusions and it is likely that the mask will continue to be part of our daily life.“, Estimates Stéphane Attal, 59, who was hospitalized because of the Covid last April. “Some people will want to party a lot more than before, to feel more free. Others on the contrary will continue to remain on their guard, because we will have had no answer on the pandemic, its real origin and we will be wary of the reappearance of variants …“, Points out Corinne Benzekri, reached at the start of the pandemic with a very serious form of Covid.

An Ifop poll has just confirmed that the French will not let go of the barrier measures so easily. 78% of them say they will give up kissing strangers even after the end of the health crisis. 50% no longer even consider hugging their loved ones (friends, colleagues, etc.) to greet them. 74% think of continuing to wear a mask in public places when they are sick (flu …) and 57% of putting it at home when they receive a person they do not know (craftsman …), details the survey commissioned by the personal services site Aladom.

Experts confirm that the return to life will not happen suddenly, even if the virus disappears. “There will probably be an airlock period, which is relatively long given the trauma that this period of Covid has been. It could take several years, details Doctor Maryline Baranes, clinical psychologist at the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital. According to her, one of the side effects of drastic measures is a loss of socialization. The therapist believes that the youngest will get used again quickly. “But for the elderly, people who have lost loved ones, we will have to deal with post-traumatic stress syndromes., explains this specialist. People now look at closeness with anxiety. The other is potentially carrying something that could harm me, and we ourselves are also vector of germs, and therefore we must stay away from each other», She sums up. “The mask will eventually fall off, but the distancing might remain“.

The Asian example illustrates perfectly what could await us. Going out masked is part of the customs. But contrary to popular belief, this habit is not linked to ancestral traditions. Although the mask was invented in China at the beginning of the 20th century, its global adoption dates from the SARS epidemic (2002-2004). “The masks become [pour eux] a reflex at that point and Asians will continue to use them to protect themselves from pollution, colds and other flu», Explains anthropologist Christos Lynteris, who specializes in medical issues, to France Culture.

For her part, Roxane de la Sablonnière, professor of social psychology at the University of Montreal, thinks that the habits of “life before” cannot be erased so quickly. “The human being is a social animal. We are influenced by the behavior of others, by our loved ones. So, little by little, this culture deeply rooted before the pandemic should regain the upper hand, guided by the influence of our relationships..

One scenario could however change the situation. “We will find the life before, provided we do not face a virus again in a few years», Judge Maryline Baranes. “In this case, we could find our reflexes very quickly», Abounds Roxane de la Sablonnière. The “face” of the world could be changed for good this time around.


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