In Covid-19 Lockdown, South Africans Enjoyed Family Time but Felt Anxious About the Economy
The South African government has been praised on international stages for its quick intervention in the Covid-19 crisis, moving the country into strict lockdown within two weeks of the first local cases. Six weeks into lockdown, how did South Africans feel about their country’s response?
To find out, we conducted an online survey of over 500 South Africans in our online communities. (As a result, this research is representative of our viewership, but not South African society overall). Here’s what we learned:
Trust in the government was at an all-time high, but probably not for long. This swift action earned the government a high level of trust amongst respondents, with 40% saying they were very confident in the government’s response to the outbreak, and 39% saying they are somewhat confident. At the same time, when asked how long they expected the crisis to last, 43% of respondents indicated it would take 2 to 3 months to have the virus under control. However, in his weekly letter to the nation, President Ramaphosa suggested that coronavirus could affect South African society for up to a year.
Anxiety about the financial implications of lockdown was pervasive. While government trust was at a peak during lockdown, South Africans were also increasingly anxious about how the virus would affect the economy. Of those polled, 99% said they were worried about the financial impact and job losses, and 52% didn’t have enough savings to make it through April. Just 11% said they had enough saved to survive the next three months.
Human interaction was the hardest thing to give up. Of those polled, the lockdown restriction most strongly felt (53%) was not being able to see friends and family. Respondents also really missed ordering fast food (34%). When asked what they liked least about being in isolation, the most common responses were being indoors most of the time (39%) and running out of things to do (37%).
But they loved having more time with their families. Even though South Africans have missed being able to see friends and extended family, those in self-isolation with their families have used this time to draw closer together. Half of respondents said the best thing about being in lockdown was spending more time with family. Simple activities like baking and cooking, presumably together, have increased at 27%.
Parents became more aware of their kids’ schoolwork and entertainment. More than half of South Africa parents (53%) have been helping their children with schoolwork. They also are more up to date on the content their kids consume, with 48% spending more time watching their children’s choice of TV shows in lockdown. Many were pleased to see these shows were entertaining (71%) as well as educational (60%).
After lockdown, South Africans hope the familial closeness will continue. When asked about the benefits they would like to carry over into life after lockdown, 30% of respondents said they would like to continue spending more quality time with their families. Many adults indicated that they’d also like to take better care of their health (42%) and continue taking time for self-reflection (14%).