During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is working to ensure that the UK has the best information about our society and economy and that the government has the information it needs to manage its response.

The need to limit social contact means we have changed the way we normally work. To keep the public and our staff safe, we have introduced different ways of collecting data. We are also gathering new information to help us understand how COVID-19 is impacting our daily lives.

As a result of the pandemic, we have:

  • stopped all face-to-face data collection, instead collecting information by phone or online

  • started collecting new information that the government and the public need

  • set-up a new dedicated page on our website to enable quick assessment of the impact of COVID-19

There is more information about our studies and what is involved in taking part on our website.

Gathering information from people, families and households

Our largest household study gathers information on employment, unemployment and reasons why people are neither working nor looking for work. We have added questions about the impact of COVID-19 on people’s employment and working patterns. We have stopped all face-to-face interviewing. We are asking some people to take part by phone and inviting others to participate online.

We have set up a new online study to find out about issues relating to COVID-19 such as public understanding about the pandemic, changes in behaviour (including home working and visiting friends and relatives) and the impact on finances.

Other household studies will be conducted by phone instead of face-to-face. We are not currently interviewing at ports, airports and stations to gather information about migration, travel and tourism.

COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS)

The ONS is also jointly leading a major new government study to track the presence of COVID-19 in the population. The household study will improve understanding of the current rate of infection and how many people are likely to have developed antibodies to the virus. More details on the CIS can be found on our website.

Collecting data from businesses

Our business surveys are already conducted online or by post, so they continue as usual. We have established a new online survey specifically about the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, which covers changes in employment, turnover and business expectations.

We are not currently visiting shops and businesses in person to gather information on prices, which are used in our inflation statistics. We are collecting prices remotely from shops and businesses via the internet and telephone.

Further developments

This page shows the work we are doing to ensure we can continue to provide the vital information needed to monitor the impact of COVID-19. We will update this page to explain further developments.