The Youth Lab

Europe Reopening Vibe Check

Big news around Europe this week. The World Health Organisation has declared that Europe is officially coming to the end of the pandemic, with the emergency phase likely to end this year. With this, many countries are removing the bulk of restrictions swiftly.

Queue mixed feelings. From ‘get me out the door to the nearest dancefloor!’ to ‘I’m still keeping my two meter distance- respect my personal space’ the reaction to this news has been, naturally, varied among young people. All feelings are valid and should be respected - we’ve been through a pretty big experience of collective trauma.

For this week’s 52INSIGHTS, we asked young people a question - ‘How are you and your friends feeling right now about the Covid-19 emergency and restrictions ending?’

Here’s what they said….


For many, the feeling isn’t black and white - it’s a total mixed bag and can change day to day depending on mental wellbeing or social plans.

“It’s mixed feelings. Almost like angel and devil. The angel says go out, start traveling again, enjoy the freedom. The devil says better stay home you can still get it. I decided to take it easy, because I realized we can get it all no matter how often we are vaccinated. Just not as worst as it would be without. And at some point we need to go back to reality, so if not now, when then?” Max, 24, Berlin

​​”A part of me is trying to interiorize all the anxiety produced by the situation and accepting that this is reality. Another part of me is sick of it and wants to move on with the pandemic to make plans, be around people without overthinking, and exist without the mask. Last week I changed my phone and looking at my old pictures, I feel like that life was utopic, totally out of reach in the world we currently live in today.” Ramon, 31, Galicia

“A lot of people see it as ending, I think this is something we have to live. I’m Norwegian, have lived in Sweden and Denmark during the pandemic and the attitudes and ways of living are radically different. I’m curious about the long term effect. Last summer was talked about being the sexy summer and it wasn’t. Some people think it will be crazy now, but I think it’s premature.” Elise, 30, Stockholm

“The ending of restrictions feels quite surreal. I don't really know anyone that's getting too excited or is making a big deal out of it because we've been disappointed so many times over the last 2 years. However, the concerns that we've had over this time are slowly drifting away and we're beginning to stop policing ourselves on enjoying day-to-day life and we can just get on with having a good time again.” Luke, 23, Dublin

“It will be interesting to see how we all adapt again. Habits and life patterns have changed over the pandemic - as well as people getting older -so I don’t think there will be a complete reversal to how life was before.” Mark, 27, London


Other’s are raring to go and can’t wait for things to just feel relatively normal for an extended period of time without too much of a looming threat of it all still feeling too good to be true.

“We are exhausted and so so ready for the restrictions to end! I think we are all just really looking forward to everything getting back to normal, even if it means we’ll most likely get sick in the following weeks.” Victor, 22, Copenhagen

“I CANNOT wait to go to a live concert again and get swept away by the energy of the crowd!” Maaike, 25, Amsterdam


There are many that still feel the weight of what the past two years have brought - stress. The emergency ending means that many people might be anxious about MORE change now - and worry about missing out on the things that have loved about pandemic restrictions.

“My honest answer would be that my friends and I have stopped even discussing restrictions. I have no plans to go out ever.” Emma, 28, Berlin

“I feel stressed out about international traveling, I miss dancing the most, and nightlife in general. I love working remote and I don’t want that part to end. I don’t care anymore about getting covid again cause it’s just a cold for people my age. Get your boosters so we can all move on please.” Vicente, 31, Barcelona

“Feel like I’m struggling to separate covid anxiety from seasonal sadness. Just generally don’t feel positive but think that’s because it’s cold. I’m looking forward to a change of scenery, but find the change in covid restrictions - which happen in different ways across different countries - quite stressful. And I’m mostly positive about restrictions ending, but also anxious as I think everyone is when there’s a big change.” Sarah, 29, Lisbon

“We've gone from having lost 2 years of socialising to an immediate "okay now do whatever you want". I honestly couldn't say if there was a positive or negative response within my own social circle, more than anything I think we're all skeptical. I’d love to see more investment in culture now going forward in Ireland. But we've been in and out of restrictions for so long, and have had so many big moments cancelled that I think I'll be holding off making any plans until I'm sure this is going to stick.(Although I have finally started shopping for a graduation dress a full two years after finishing my degree).” Niamh, 23, Dublin


We are entering a new period of huge change. With new rules (or no rules) rolling out across different markets in Europe, it’s important to understand the ranging emotions young people are feeling - from the perspective of employees, customers and other stakeholders. We need to be flexible with how we move through the next wave of changes; it's about creating solutions and communications that meet both the people who are ready to go wild and those who will be practicing caution or holding tight to habits that have been serving them well. Remember - everyone has been changed by their experience over the pandemic.