Ms Llewellyn also felt anger that the northern part of the northern beaches endured an additional week of lockdown.
“That really struck me and many others as unfair – and it made many angry,” she said. “In my immediate area, there’d only been one COVID-positive case – weeks before.”
Ms Llewellyn said the mood of the community had “lifted massively” since the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“However, for others, including many business owners, the mental health issues remain,” she said. “Even though we are out of lockdown now, they still took a huge financial blow over the ‘golden period’, which they can’t get back.”
Narrabeen cafe owner Leigh Titterton said the fear of another lockdown and loss of income combined with concern about contracting COVID-19 had created a level of anxiety among staff.
“During the lockdown the community’s level of concern seemed to elevate with a bit of paranoia taking hold in some cases, not just amongst customers but also management and staff,” he said.
Wearing a mask had been quite difficult, especially on hot days, but he said: “If the options are [to] wear a mask or go back into lockdown, it is a no brainer.”
Northern Beaches councillor Vincent De Luca said the lockdown had had a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing.
“Due to COVID restrictions, many people saw their businesses suffer or closed completely, were forced to give up work and unable to earn a living,” he said. “This has caused situational depression, anxiety and trauma to many.”
Cr De Luca said there were not enough psychologists in the area, especially for young people.
“Further increasing the amount of psychological sessions on Medicare is important as this is an ongoing pandemic and some need help several times a week,” he said.
Liberal member for Manly James Griffin said the lockdown generated a “kaleidoscope” of emotions: “I was full of optimism for a fantastic summer only to have that snatched away a week before Christmas.”
Mr Griffin said work “simply didn’t stop” and, by the end of the lockdown, “I think exhaustion would be the best term to describe my mental and physical state”.
Yet his coping mechanism would be to put on a pair of runners, he said. “No matter how the day unfolded, a run would always bring clarity.”
Mr Griffin said he had observed a “real feeling” of solidarity and camaraderie during the lockdown, and a determination to avoid another lockdown.
“Looking at friends and family in places like London really brings home the point of how lucky we are, and how well we did to avert disaster,” he said.
“Anxiety and fear of the unknown clearly remain an issue, and the experience of not being able to visit family or friends in other parts of NSW is something we don’t want to revisit.”
Australian Association of Psychologists director Sahra O’Doherty said pandemic restrictions had become the “new normal” for many residents.
“However, the occurrence of the lockdown coinciding with the festive season may have exacerbated residents’ experiences of distress,” she said.
Yet Ms O’Doherty said there did not appear to be ongoing issues from a population perspective, as shown by residents celebrating the end of lockdown by going to the beach and recommencing social activities.
“One possible ongoing impact for greater Sydney is the potential anxious anticipation of other lockdowns in future affecting specific areas,” she said.
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Andrew Taylor is a Senior Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.