Lonely, Manitoba? New lockdown means no socializing outside household

A lone man gets exercise at Woodbine Beach in Toronto on Thursday, March 26, 2020. CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette.

Manitoba, are you lonely?

Eighteen-year-old Winnipeg student Julie Stevenson is.

She — like 1.36 million other Manitobans — now faces the tightest COVID-19 restrictions the province has seen yet while novel coronavirus cases surge.

More than 8,000 people currently have the novel coronavirus in Manitoba, 276 of whom are in hospital.

The five-day test positivity rate is 13.8 per cent.

Read more: 10 more Manitoba COVID-19 deaths Saturday, more than 8,000 known active cases

Now, under restrictions put into place midnight Friday, people are no longer allowed to socialize with anyone from outside their household, though people who live alone are allowed to bubble with a single person.

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Stevenson is isolating from friends and her significant other — though she did so prior to the public health order, as her father is a health care worker and her mother works at a school, she now likens the new lockdown to barely being able to surface for air after months of restrictions.

“You get pushed back down,” Stevenson said in an interview.

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“It’s very difficult, it’s very mentally draining.”

But she understands it’s needed as hospitals are rocked with patients requiring intensive care.

“It’s not something that I’m going to complain about, I’m not going to complain about the fact we can’t see each other when there are people dying, there are ways we can still connect and nothing is worth putting his family or my family at risk,” she said, pointing to internet-age technology that allows her to connect with her beau — and study at Red River College from despite home having never met her instructors.

“I think we’re very fortunate to have the ability to still connect and to just be able to play stupid games at night,” she said.

“Whatever we can do. Texting or whatever, between my classes or when I’m doing homework, just to be in contact.”

Read more: Tired of coronavirus? Some advice to counter COVID-19 fatigue

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That lack of connection — and ability to lean on things you normally would — drains on you, a clinical psychologist told Global News.

“We have to understand that the impact of all this is taking away the things that most of us would rely on to actually become more psychologically resilient,” Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman said.

“And that would be regular routine, work and social support — all of that is gone.”

Stevenson, at least, is trying to make it through the next three weeks of isolation while the current public health order lasts.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Taslim Alani-Verjee said it’s important to recognize your emotions — amid COVID-19 fatigue, amid isolation .

“Make space for those emotions, and know that they are legitimate, and you don’t need to put a smile on your face and be strong just because everyone tells you to,” Alani-Verjee said. “This is hard and crummy, but there is an end in sight, so find ways to take care of yourself. Acknowledge the emotions and find ways of making meaning of the emotions.”

— with files from Malika Karim

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