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Pandemic restrictions had a lasting effect on behavior patterns

In a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers have investigated how COVID-19 restrictions changed behavior patterns, and how these patterns continue to change. The study focused on the U.K., where activities and social events were restricted near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to slow the spread of the virus. 

A lot of research has already looked at how COVID-19 restrictions changed human behavior. The new study is unique in looking at how behavior in the U.K. changed over time as restrictions continued to evolve.  

To understand their research topic better, the scientists conducted six different online surveys to track changes in behavior patterns among 203 respondents. The surveys asked participants about different activities they engaged in during various phases of the pandemic, and whether they did these activities in person or online. 

An analysis of the results showed that the biggest changes were the investment of time in social and cultural activities and travel. The surveys also confirmed that most individuals shifted from more in-person activities to more online events. Furthermore, although all pandemic restrictions were removed on July 19, 2021, many of these behavioral shifts still remain in place. 

“This longitudinal study determines the frequency and way of people doing activities from Spring 2020 to Summer 2021 during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK,” said study co-author Lan Li of University College London.

“The findings provide an invaluable insight into understanding how people in the UK changed their lifestyle, including what activities they do, and how they accessed those activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health policy implemented to address the pandemic.”

The scientists hope that their work will help inform policy makers on the impact of their restrictions for future decision making. 

By Erin Moody , Staff Writer

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