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 the coronavirus is affecting our daily lives.

As a result of the pandemic, we have:

  • stopped all face-to-face survey interviewing in the home and are conducting our household studies by phone or online instead
  • 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 the coronavirus

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 the coronavirus (COVID-19) on people's employment and working patterns.

We have stopped all face-to-face interviewing in the home. We are asking some people to take part online and inviting others to participate by phone instead. So that we can do this, we visit some addresses to collect the contact details we need to carry out our studies safely.

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

Other household studies will be conducted by phone instead of face-to-face.

The International Passenger Survey

In addition to our household studies, we also conduct the International Passenger survey (IPS) at ports, airports and stations. This study gathers information about travel and tourism, and now also investigates passengers' experiences and attitudes relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This study was resumed in December 2020 after being suspended since March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. We have put in place extensive measures to ensure that interviewing can be conducted safely.

COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is also jointly leading a major new government study to track the presence of the coronavirus (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 the coronavirus 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 the coronavirus (COVID-19). We will update this page to explain further developments.