SAN JOSE, Calif. - With the continued shelter-in-place through the end of May, additional stressors are being put on people as they try to comply with the new rules. It seems everyone is trying to avoid catching COVID-19, while all suffering with cabin fever.
After six weeks inside, and warmer weather arriving, the desire to be outside is stronger than ever. Experts say it’s nature; officials warn to follow the rules, which are changing in large part due to actions over the past weekend. Like moths to a flame, thousands of people flocked to area beaches and parks, and disregarded existing shelter-in-place orders.
“I wouldn’t say I’m tired of it. It’s frustrating. I understand it’s kind of necessary,” said San Jose resident Daniel Marovich.
From the North Bay to Santa Cruz and points in between, it’s a near rebellion, as traffic chokes roadways and side streets in an attempt to get out and get away.
“I think that people maybe had a little bit of fatigue from staying indoors for over a month. And we saw a big influx of traffic coming to our beaches,” said Jason Hoppin, a communications manager for Santa Cruz County.
Officials around the state report unsafe behavior, with little to no social distancing. That’s caught the eye of Gov. Gavin Newsom, (D) Calif.
“If there are people thumbing their nose at it, putting their lives and impacting the lives of others and ultimately setting back the cause of reopening the economy, I think we may have to do a little bit more,” said Newsom.
That little bit more is greater enforcement. Currently people are allowed outside to exercise as long as they maintain social distancing. But many forget or don’t care once they’re free from homebound life. Experts say that’s because collective fatigue is setting in.
“After a while it’s gonna wear on people, no question about that,” said Dr. Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychologist. “People want green space. People want nature. They want to be outside. And they get a psychological benefit. They get a mood uplift from this. It helps to manage anxiety and depression.”
But the natural desire for outdoors is running headlong into the collective need for everyone to stay indoors – which could extend home confinement, not shorten it.
“There will be, based on what happened last weekend, some differences going forward,” said Hoppin. “In terms of the beaches, [the orders] may be more restrictive than the ones we currently have now.”
Santa Clara County officials say they’ll come up with the new beach and parks guidelines later this week, after just reopening those areas last week.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office says there have been less than a handful of citations for shelter-in-place violations. All of them were written in association with a more serious crime that was being committed.