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The pandemic caused anxiety, and many remain worried

Residents in 2021 queue for vaccines against Covid-19 (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

From quality of life to the economy and housing, Covid-19 caused chaos and anxiety throughout Bermuda – a new survey explores the top seven casualties of the long pandemic.

• Health and personal wellbeing: Covid-19 inflicted stress and took a toll on residents’ mental health, a survey released by the Bermuda Community Foundation charity found.

Financial hardships, increases to the cost of living and being overworked were the top sources of stress.

But about one in five residents reported managing to beat stress through mechanisms such as exercise.

The survey found that alcohol was one of “the least-mentioned self-reported coping mechanisms” during the pandemic – but noted sales of alcohol surged almost 40 per cent in April 2020.

• Economy and work: Bermuda’s economy took a gut punch from the pandemic – with retail plunging 30 per cent at its outset.

While international business was relatively unscathed in the first year of the pandemic, tourism suffered “a substantial decline in visitation and revenues due to travel restrictions”.

A “strong majority of residents” believe the island’s economy was damaged by the pandemic, with nearly half believing it would continue to worsen.

Jobs dropped “notably in the areas of accommodation and food service, human health and social work, and wholesale and retail trade”.

There was growth in international business and public administration and residents were “optimistic” that employment would improve over the next year.

Residents also reported an impact to their personal finances from the pandemic.

• Housing: The cost of housing “significantly increased during the pandemic, a situation that is recognised by most residents”, the report stated.

Only a minority of residents changed housing in the pandemic, but Bermuda’s rental market saw higher in demand in 2020, as residents looked for more space to work.

“The pandemic is viewed as having had a negative impact on the availability of housing,” the report added. “Looking ahead, residents believe that the cost of housing will continue to increase within the next year, while they are more likely to forecast no changes in terms of the availability of housing.”

• Education: Residents felt there was “a significant negative impact” on the quality of public education, with a “large minority” believing it would not change over the next year.

However, three in ten expected an improvement.

Covid-19 is “mostly” considered to have had minimal impact on the quality of private education, with “some even suggesting that quality improved since March 2020”.

“By far, residents believe that quality of private education will stay unchanged over the next 12 months, or that it will improve.”

• Safety and security: A “large minority of residents” said safety was worse compared with pre-pandemic times.

Surveyors found “mixed feelings about the near future, with a large minority of residents of the opinion that the situation will remain unchanged, and others split between those who think it will worsen or improve”.

Crime dropped from 2016 to 2019, but residents still believed crime and violence had ramped up in the pandemic.

They reported feeling it would either worsen over the year ahead or stay the same.

There was a 26.5 per cent drop in road accidents from 2018 to 2020, attributed to lockdowns.

But the reasons for crashes were consistent with 2014 findings: inattention, overtaking improperly and inexperience were the top causes of road accidents.

• Community wellbeing: Residents saw the pandemic as having a “neutral to negative impact” on the arts, culture and heritage, citizen engagement and civic responsibility, as well as volunteering and charitable contributions.

The environment was ranked as “less impacted overall”.

• Diversity and inclusion: Perceptions on the pandemic’s impact on diversity and inclusion in Bermuda skewed “neutral to negative”, with a large minority of residents saying the situation remained unchanged – and just over a quarter who believed it had worsened.

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Published December 13, 2022 at 7:51 am (Updated December 13, 2022 at 7:51 am)

The pandemic caused anxiety, and many remain worried

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