Do you feel like the goalposts have been moved a lot wrt pandemic restrictions?

I’ve seen quite a few people who complain that they felt like governments and experts have been moving the goalposts on them to extend lockdowns and restrictions.

“This is to flatten the curve… Oop, never mind, we’re going for eradication.”

“We’re waiting for a vaccine… It’s here… Oop, never mind, we’re waiting longer.”

I get the sense that these people are frustrated and feel like governments would keep restrictions in place for years on end if they could get away with it, out of utter terror of a future resurgence, no matter what the odds are.

Regardless of how justified such shifts are and what causes them (I think lack of forethought in proper messaging is at least a small factor among the others that are more obvious), I was wondering if anyone here has had the same thought or felt the same way, or if those who do say this are just a bunch of selfish whiners.

No. We’ve always ultimately been about trying to stop virus spread. Flattening the curve was just tthe way to do it, and the most we thought we could accomplish at the time. And it was always going to take a while after the vaccines came out before enough people actually had them.

The positions you describe sound either ignorant or disingenuous. Heck, I suspect both: maybe someone misunderstood, and then some disingenuous person picked up on it and spread it, leading to a lot more ignorant people spreading it. That seems to be how a lot of this stuff spread.

Looking at it from a distance but Britain’s, especially Boris Johnson’s England’s, approach showed why it was so easy for people to take that view. It appeared (again from a distance and not within the thick of it) to have been a succession of poorly adhered-to commitments, seemingly motivated by dissension within the top levels of government about whether they would commit to the science, a tug-of-war between market wets-damps-dries, hoping to be able to fudge their way through using less restrictive lockdowns and pretty ordinary messaging.

My lucky experience in Australia was that there was a national cabinet of the Prime Minister and the State leaders, informed by a top level health and science panel, which was all the state and national chief medical officers. The Australian states found they could effectively shut their borders to each other, so we had a national quarantine and half a dozen state programs.

One of the common links was regular detailed daily media briefings by each state premier and chief health officer, followed by questions, and they were always on top of their brief. I think that did a lot of good to overcome what @Leaper describes as confusion about rule changes. They clearly set expectations and stuck to them - ‘we will shut down for 4 weeks and if we have X level of deaths or less we open up Y amount’. Each state was constantly fine-tuning what it did, but I don’t think there was a sense of arbitrariness in how it was conveyed - you were going to do this for a set period of time and then move in specified directions depending on the result.

I think most people here felt that they were part of the process of achieving the goals. The whining you describe sounds like a symptom on not feeling that they owned any part of the decision-making process or were made to feel they could change things by personal action.

I live in the southern US, so there aren’t really that many government restrictions to speak of, but yes, it’s something that I’ve noticed in social media conversations (mostly among highly educated liberals, since those are the people I mostly know). I don’t know if I’d characterize it so much as goalpost-moving as … I dunno, “Jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, but never jam today.”

I guess the clearest example that comes to mind was how, just before Thanksgiving and Christmas, it suddenly became fashionable to say “You can skip seeing your family at the holidays this year! It’s just one day! There are 364 other days in the year!” Well, no, it isn’t “just one day.” None of the people posting this sort of thing would have thought it was OK to see out-of-town relatives at any point since March. What they actually mean is that everybody should forego seeing their families for a year or more (and in some cases, forever, because not everyone who was alive in March of 2020 is alive now, and that isn’t all due to COVID). If that is what you’re asking of people, you need to own it and be completely honest about what you are asking.

I do feel the goalposts have been moved, in the sense that we aren’t being tough enough right now.

The pandemic right now is far more severe than it was last March - yet we’re being laxer in many ways than we were last March. We should be all the tougher and draconian right now.

Agree. They should have phrased it as, “You have all these years to see them - prior Thanksgivings and future Thanksgivings. Just not this Thanksgiving.” That would have been a lot more honest.

The goalposts have been moved, but they’ve been moved in response to new data.

The early message about flattening the curve was about the immediate danger of runaway explosive infection. But then we saw that other countries (New Zealand, Mongolia, China) were able to actually eradicate the disease. That’s a better goal, and we should have attempted it (honestly, we didn’t really make a serious effort in most places).

Pretty sure we weren’t waiting for the existence of a vaccine. We were waiting for vaccination to provide immunity. Which clearly isn’t here yet. I don’t know if you have a vaccine yet, but I don’t, and the vast majority of people don’t. So obviously it hasn’t yet changed things.

Governments don’t manage expectations well, since they’re trying to avoid blowback.

The Ontario government is currently a Conservative government, so they don’t take the pandemic as seriously as they should. If the experts say you need to shift to “gray” (worst restrictions) when 1000 people per (whatever unit) are sick, they’ll make it 4000 people per (whatever unit) because they’re trying to “balance” the economy with the pandemic. They only shifted to 4000 people when the media complained their original limit was even higher and they weren’t listening to the experts.

They will then (following their new, looser rules) extend a lockdown by two weeks because things are bad, and some people think that after two weeks they’ll lift the restrictions, but things don’t improve, so they need to extend the lockdown by another two weeks, etc. That will keep on happening.

Many common sense steps took a very long time. Only recently did the Canadian government require visitors (and returning Canadians) to have a negative COVID test to enter the country. We were in a pandemic for around 10 months when those rules were imposed, which makes no sense to me (that should have been imposed back in March of 2020). So now, as there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it looks like the government is imposing more restrictions.

Dr. Fauci has been saying people might need to wear masks and socially distance until February 2022, even though all adults who want a vaccine should be vaccinated by the end of the summer. This is very poor expectations management. It sounds like people who will get the vaccine will be punished due to the behavior of the vaccine hesitant.

Even rational politicians will shoot themselves in the foot. Maybe I shouldn’t name names, but some politicians have been pushing to open schools, even though getting all of those teachers vaccinated in time is difficult (it takes time, and some teachers are vaccine hesitant). Either schools reopen and case loads go up (with some parents getting upset), or school openings get delayed, and some other parents will get upset.


“This is to flatten the curve… Oop, never mind, we’re going for eradication.”[/quote]

Never heard that from anyone except those who are frustrated by the COVID-19 restrictions. It was always to flatten the curve, preventing overwhelming the healthcare system and to a more minor degree to delay the spread so better treatments and vaccines can be implemented. I have never heard the ‘experts and authorities’ going for eradication except in the case of herd immunity which requires a wide scale vaccine implementation.

Again this is what people frustrated by the COVID-19 restrictions like to say, but it was never advertised and it is also unrealistic to think that restrictions end with the initial deployment of the vaccine where people are still trying so hard to obtain, but only when a significant percentage of the population has gotten the vaccine and it is available for those who want to get it.

So basically those arguments are strawmen.

Part of that is true for those who I know, though they misrepresent the facts to suit their fears. However this is a strange time, and part of this has to do with AI algorithms where things like Facebook are not connecting people with facts, but people with what will engage them regardless of it’s accuracy, so people who believe that governments want to keep people locked down forever will be connected to others who say the same thing. We have seen this trend with former President Trump supporters as well. It’s interesting to me to think of this in biblical context of prophecies of how people will be deceived.

I’m going to agree that it sounds like echo chamber talk - my Facebook friends are saying this, so it must be true.

In my state, yeah, there was confusion at first. Surprise, surprise. As we came to the fall and the school year, they put out SPECIFIC LEVELS AND GOALS - we’re at level 1 (everyone stay home); if the positivity rate drops to this level, we can go to level 2; they drop to this other level, we go to Level 3; etc. We dropped down in October; rates rose in December and January (hmmm. what was a couple of weeks before December and January that might cause an uptick …); we’re back down again, and we’re at “level 4” where high school sports are started up again.

it’s more severe because it hadn’t gotten a foothold last March. 11 months ago, we were trying our best to keep it from getting a foothold. Allegedly. “Flatten the curve” was them saying “it’s going to be bad - really bad - and we need to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed.” OK, the curve was flattened. We’ve got better ways of dealing with the symptoms. However, restrictions were never eased (much). Now, people are in quarantine fatigue - we just want it to be over, and we’re clinging to anything that resembles a “normal life”. I truly truly believe that if the CFSG had said at the beginning “Wearing a face mask is the patriotic thing to do”, instead of mocking it and saying “this will blow over”, we wouldn’t be in the state we’re in right now. No, it wouldn’t be over yet, but I think we’d be happier. And fewer of us would have gotten COVID.

Oh, and it’s never been “we’re waiting on a vaccine” - it’s always been “we’re waiting for people to get vaccinated”. Unfortunately, the same $#!+s who have been complaining about having to wear a mask are now saying “I’ll never get that vaccine!”

Did other Western countries do it much earlier than Canada? I don’t think so, certainly not last March. Testing wasn’t plentiful or reliable so you were still going to need quarantine.

Personally, I haven’t paid too close attention to what a particular unit of government says on a particular day.

Instead, last March I decided what impressed me as reasonable precautions/risks, and I intend to maintain them until (at least) whenever I’m vaccinated.

It has always impressed me as curious that otherwise reasonable folk seemed to place stock in a government pronouncement that - say, they could have 10 people in their house 3 feet apart from each other, whereas last week they could host only 5 people 6 feet apart. So long as none of those folk are from a certain state!

Yeah, it seems the govt pronouncements have changed. Reminds me of the everchanging color-code of terror!

No, not really. Keep in mind that this has been a complete learning experience for everyone. We have been learning as we go, so there has been changes made to CDC policy as facts have been learned and the characteristics of the disease identified.

Anyone who is actually upset with the fact that changes have been made over time in a situation like this redefines the term, “Naive”.

The government (which probably isn’t the best term here as we’re effectively talking about a bunch of different governments) is responding to pressure from two opposing directions. On the one side, controlling the spread of Covid pushes for the greatest amount of restrictions. On the other side, the social and economic costs of these restrictions (which are real) push to make them as minimal as possible. And being as all of these factors can only be based on predictions of theoretical future events, there’s going to be a gray area even if we can figure out where we’d like the balance to be.

I personally don’t see it as moving goalposts, though there were changes. However, I have a medical background and stayed relatively highly informed about COVID, so I understood why changes happened as understanding grew.

I can understand why it may have seemed like moving goalposts to those who were less informed, missed some new piece of information, or didn’t fully understand information. I had to explain to my own mother several times why masks would still need to be worn after getting a vaccine. And THEN, after I thought she understood, realized that she thought the vaccine contained live, weakened virus, and that she could give COVID to my dad if she was vaccinated first, purely from having gotten the vaccine.

People aren’t used to us dealing with novel viruses, so they just don’t “get” our evolving understanding. If this were the seasonal flu, it would seem like shifting goalposts, since we should’ve had most of the answers to begin with, and recommendations wouldn’t have changed as much. But it’s not the seasonal flu, so things changed as information and resources changed.

From the title, I thought that the OP was going to be making an entirely different point.

We have moved the goalposts, repeatedly, as we have accepted greater and greater community transmission, hospital utilization, and death, as we go about our daily lives, pretending that nothing is happening.

I’m curious as to where, in the US, things are still or have ever been “locked down.” Wearing a mask is not being locked down. About a year ago, there were a lot of buisnesses that had to close for a month or so(I was one of them), but other than restaurants, bars, and theaters, pretty much everything is back open.

People may “feel” as though “governments would keep restrictions in place for years on end if they could get away with it, out of utter terror of a future resurgence, no matter what the odds are.” but that would only be because they have chosen to consume media that lies and tells them this.

If you understand this is a brand-new virus and a brand-new (and changing) situation, you will be glad for updated information and accept that this means the old information was wrong.

If you hate the very existence of restrictions, you will behave as if 100% hindsight was available on day 1, and the existence of errors and updates means that nobody is expert enough to tell you what to do.

I am in the first category.

People keep beefing with “flatten the curve” as if it was a discarded goal. We never attained that goal for more than a few weeks!

Switching to an eradication strategy isn’t moving the goalposts farther; it’s just admitting that we completely missed the first goal.

I’ve heard it too, but I think it’s the wrong metaphor. I think for it to be apt, it would have to be a situation where X was the target, then just as X was nearly achieved, the game was changed and Y was made the new target. Instead, what has happened is that X has been the same target the entire time (or at least since April or so), but the guy throwing darts at it is blindfolded and standing one-legged on a rotating platform. The occasional dart gets close, but most of them just flail on by somewhere around the room.

But that was the goal - make sure for the worst of it that the hospitals weren’t overrun. Hospitals in some areas were almost overwhelmed; we learned about how to treat it; ICU beds weren’t as full. Mission accomplished. With the post-Holiday crush, again some hospitals (different hospitals) were almost overwhelmed, but we got through it. I don’t have a problem with it. I am definitely of the opinion that if the goalposts moved, it was because we have been learning, not just randomly changing our goals.