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People might break physical distancing as weeks could turn into years: sociologist

Last Updated Apr 15, 2020 at 8:16 am MDT

A POV photo of a group of people hanging out online on a video chat during a pandemic lockdown with a dog on the couch (CREDIT: AJ_Watt/iStock)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The longer the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the more likely people will break physical distancing guidelines.

That’s according to a sociologist from Mount Royal University in Calgary.

“Many people are saying now that they’re fine to continue to practice physical distancing until the end of the month but after that, they just won’t anymore for their own mental health.”

Caroline McDonald-Harker said if we continue to isolate, it could lead to higher cases of domestic violence, child abuse, and suicide.

“A lot of people are feeling very isolated and lonely. We’re social beings by nature and I think over a short period of time it is sustainable but longer-term, there are so many risks that I don’t think we’ve talked about.”

She added young people and those going through financial difficulties are more likely to break the rules and believes governments need to keep sending updates as much as possible.

This comes as a study from Harvard University suggests social distancing requirements could be in place for years not months.

According to the study, projections could see intermittent social-distancing measures continue until 2022.

Another study from the University of Ottawa projects around 84 per cent of the population could contract coronavirus, putting a dent in plans to ease physical distancing restrictions.

McDonald-Harker says during these times, it’s important to stay in touch but just sending a text won’t do the trick.

“Talking to someone over the phone or sending an email, that’s not the same thing as face-to-face interaction so one recommendation that I have is, try to have virtual, face-to-face contact with people as much as possible.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had said some physical distancing measures could be relaxed by the end of May as the province is expecting to reach the peak of the pandemic by mid-May.

-with files from 680 NEWS