Boredom and loneliness at record level, pandemic poll shows

Levels of fear and worry drop since cases peaked last month, Department of Health data shows

Irish people are more bored, frustrated and lonely now than at any point during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to polling carried out for the Government.

Levels of happiness are at the lowest point yet, while intolerance has reached a high point, the Amarach Research tracker for the Department of Health shows.

Since the start of the pandemic, the research has tracked public opinion weekly. One set of questions gauges people’s emotional wellbeing by asking about the emotions they experienced the previous day.

In the latest update, carried out last Monday, a record 43 per cent of the population said they were experiencing boredom, more than twice the level reported when restrictions were lifted at the start of December and marginally higher than during the March/April lockdown last year.


Levels of worry – reported now by 37 per cent of people – are lower than during the first surge, while 39 per cent say they have experienced enjoyment, about the same as last spring.

However, levels of reported happiness have fallen consistently since June, from 40 per cent to 28 per cent.

Thirty per cent of those surveyed had experienced sadness, compared with the 19 per cent recorded last summer. The 34 per cent reporting frustration is also at a 10-month high.

One-quarter of people (26 per cent) say they are experiencing loneliness, compared with 15 per cent last summer. Eleven per cent described feeling intolerant.


Levels of fear and worry, however, have dropped since cases peaked last month.

Fewer people than ever (15 per cent) think the worst of the coronavirus crisis is yet to come, compared with 62 per cent who think it is “happening now”.

Public opinion is split fairly evenly between people who think the Government response has been appropriate, and those who say it has been insufficient; 7 per cent say it has been too extreme.

Asked whether there should be more restrictions, 53 per cent say there should be and 33 per cent disagree.

Some 44 per cent say Ireland is trying to return to normal "at about the right pace".

For the first time since the tracker started, Twitter is favoured ahead of Facebook among social media for information on the virus.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times