March 8, 2021

The first lockdown due to COVID-19 was abrupt, and affected people in numerous ways. Some people would not dare to go outside for anything, while others would stock up on toilet paper, completely emptying store shelves. The lockdown has been lifted since, but with the spike of COVID-19 in Canada, speculation of a second lockdown is rising.

The first lockdown significantly impacted everyone– whether good or bad– so how would a second lockdown go? Specifically, how would mental health be affected by a second lockdown?

Based on a study by Nanos Research, many Canadians say that their mental health has declined because of the pandemic. There has been an increase in alcohol consumption. In a CTV survey with 1,003 Canadians, two in five Canadians said that their mental health is currently worse than before the pandemic, while one in 10 Canadians said their mental health is better. 

Megan Crowe, a Laurier University Psychology student, agrees with the latter. “I’ve found during the lockdown it was fine. But now with everything being so different and the stress of online school and work, my mental health is declining.” 

There are pros to a second lockdown. Recently, there has been a spike of COVID-19 cases, mostly due to the loose restrictions and Thanksgiving. A second lockdown could potentially save the lives of millions. A study done by the Imperial College London assessed 11 European countries, and with the use of disease modelling, have estimated that 3.2 million people would have died if not for the restrictions placed in May. Meaning the lockdown saved 3.1 million lives, including 470,000 in the UK, 690,000 in France and 630,000 in Italy. 

“I one-hundred percent believe that a second lockdown is the only reasonable choice.” Crowe said. “The cases are skyrocketing and just because many people aren’t dying doesn’t mean that we are safe from this virus. A lockdown would potentially stop people from dying.” 

The cons are just as significant as the pros. Based on a medical journal published by JAMA, researchers said that a second lockdown would increase deaths from suicide and drug overdoses. It would have a disproportionate effect on the same groups of people as the first wave: Black and Hispanic people, older adults, lower socioeconomic groups and health care workers. 

“This magnitude of death over a short period of time is an international tragedy on a historic scale,” The authors said. “The interpersonal loss is compounded by societal disruption.”

This will also take a toll on businesses, especially local ones. One of the world’s largest industries devastated due to COVID-19 is the auto industry. Sales could drop from 20 to 30 per cent, and estimations of profit loss could be $100 billion. Based on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s estimation, 158,000 businesses will close due to the pandemic, and that one in seven small businesses are at risk. 

“I think that inevitably with another shutdown more businesses will close.” Crowe said. “The economy can recover, but we can not get back the lives that are lost.” 

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