Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on lifestyle


Around one in five adults (22%) across Great Britain reported having used a face covering when outside their home in the past seven days (21 December 2022 to 8 January 2023). In the same period, around one in seven adults (15%) reported taking a lateral flow test in the past seven days.

Around one in four adults (26%) in Great Britain reported the coronavirus pandemic as an important issue facing the UK today, between 11 and 22 January 2023.

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Issues facing the UK

Around one in four adults (26%) in Great Britain reported the coronavirus pandemic as an important issue facing the UK today, between 11 and 22 January 2023.

The issues that adults most frequently reported as important were the rising cost of living (93%), the NHS (89%), the economy (76%) and the environment and climate change (59%). Read the latest on the cost of living by using our Cost of living insights tool.

These figures are based on responses to the question "What do you think are important issues facing the UK today?". Respondents were able to choose more than one option.

Last updated: 27 January 2023

Read more about this in our Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain bulletin

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Preventative measures

Around one in seven adults took a lateral flow test in the latest week

Around one in seven adults (15%) took a lateral flow test in the last seven days (21 December 2022 to 8 January 2023). This is an increase from 1 in 10 (10%) in the period 8 to 20 November 2022.

Around one in five adults (22%) have used a face covering when outside their home in the past seven days (21 December 2022 to 8 January 2023), similar to the period 8 to 20 November 2022 (21%). Those who used a face covering did not necessarily use it always or often.

Around one in seven adults (14%) who had travelled on public transport in the past seven days (21 December 2022 to 8 January 2023) said they wore a face covering for part, or all, of their last journey. This has remained the same as in the period between 8 and 20 November 2022.

Around one-quarter of adults (24%) avoided contact with older or other vulnerable people because of the coronavirus pandemic or other illnesses such as coughs and colds in the past seven days (21 December 2022 to 8 January 2023). This is an increase from around one in six adults (16%) in the period between 8 and 20 November 2022.

Further estimates on the social impacts of COVID-19, with trends over time and breakdowns by age and sex, can be found in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other illnesses dataset.

Last updated: 13 January 2023

Read more about this in our Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain bulletin

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COVID-19 and the labour market

Among people aged 50 to 65 years in Great Britain who have left or lost their job since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and would consider returning to work, around one in six (17%) reported that they left their job because of the coronavirus pandemic (10 to 29 August 2022). Those who have a mental or physical health condition or illness were more likely to report the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for leaving their previous job (21%) than those who have not (11%).

The coronavirus pandemic was the most common reason for leaving paid work for those previously working in personal services such as hairdressers (40%), arts, entertainment and recreation (46%) and the hospitality sector (32%).

Last updated: 19 December 2022

Read more about this in our Returning to the workplace – the motivations and barriers for adults aged 50 years and over, Great Britain: August 2022 article

Those aged over 65 years more likely to be economically inactive since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

There were 565,000 more economically inactive people in the UK in August to October 2022 than before the coronavirus pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020). This increase has been concentrated amongst those who are aged over 50 years old and those who have become long-term sick. While the increase in long-term sickness had started before the pandemic, it has picked up more quickly following the pandemic. There has been a higher incidence of other health problems during the pandemic, which would cover conditions such as long COVID and mental illness.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it more likely that those aged 65 years and over will be economically inactive. Men aged 65 years and over were nearly seven times more likely to be economically inactive than men aged 50 to 54 years during the pandemic (April 2021 to March 2022), compared with five times more likely before the pandemic (April 2018 to March 2019). Women aged 65 years and over were eight times more likely to be economically inactive than those aged 50 to 54 years during the pandemic, compared with 7.5 times more likely before the pandemic.

Last updated: 19 December 2022

Read more about this in our Worker movements and inactivity in the UK: 2018 to 2022 article

People reporting long COVID more likely to be out of the labour market

Estimated percentage of people aged 16 to 64 years who are economically inactive by self-reported long COVID status, UK: February 2021 to July 2022

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Working-age people are less likely to participate in the labour market after developing long COVID, according to new experimental analysis.

Of people aged 16 to 64 years with self-reported long COVID, 23.3% were economically inactive (meaning they were neither in work nor looking for work) in July 2022. This is compared with 21.4% of those without self-reported long COVID. Between July 2021 and July 2022, the inactivity rate among people with self-reported long COVID grew by 3.8 percentage points (an additional 217,000 individuals), compared with just 0.4 percentage points among people without self-reported long COVID.

We define self-reported long COVID as symptoms lasting more than four weeks after a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection that could not be explained by something else. It is not possible to say from this analysis how many people with self-reported long COVID are inactive because of their symptoms, and some may have been inactive for reasons unrelated to a previous COVID-19 infection.

Last updated: 5 December 2022

Read more about this in our Self-reported long COVID and labour market outcomes bulletin

The relationship between self-reported long COVID and labour market inactivity was strongest for people aged 50 to 64 years

Participants not in full-time education who reported long COVID 30 to 39 weeks after a test-confirmed COVID-19 infection were 45.5% more likely to be inactive for a reason other than retirement compared with before they were infected. Those reporting long-COVID 40 to 51 weeks post-infection were 34.3% more likely. This was true after adjusting for background rates of inactivity in the labour market.

The relationship between self-reported long COVID and inactivity (excluding retirement) was strongest for people aged 50 to 64 years. This increased likelihood was greatest among people reporting long COVID 30 to 39 weeks after infection (71.2% increase compared with before infection).

These results look at associations rather than cause-and-effect relationships. Despite the association between inactivity (excluding retirement) and self-reported long COVID, long COVID is unlikely to be the sole driver of increasing levels of inactivity in the UK labour market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated: 5 December 2022

Read more about this in our Self-reported long COVID and labour market outcomes bulletin

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Travel

Visits to the UK remain below pre-pandemic levels

There were an estimated 3.5 million visits to the UK by overseas residents in August 2022, down 21% from pre-coronavirus pandemic levels of 4.4 million visits in August 2019. Visitor numbers have been increasing closer to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels since March 2021 but have remained around 20% below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels since May 2022.

Holidays remained the most common reason for visits to the UK in August 2022 (47%, 1.6 million). This was followed by visiting friends or relatives (37%), which had overtaken holidays as the most popular reason for travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

UK residents made 9.0 million overseas visits in August 2022, down 22% from pre-coronavirus pandemic August 2019 (11.6 million). The most common reason for UK residents visiting overseas was going on holiday, with 69% of overseas visits in August 2022 (6.2 million) being made for this reason.

Last updated: 5 December 2022

Read more about this in our Overseas travel and tourism: June 2022 provisional results bulletin

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Health

A score of 100 in the Health Index and its components represents health in England in 2015. A higher number means better health and a lower number means worse health. The Health Index declined from 100.5 in 2019 to 100.1 in 2020, reducing to 2015 levels. However, this decline was not seen in all areas of health.

The Health Index has three categories: Healthy People, Healthy Lives and Healthy Places.

Healthy People covers health outcomes including mortality, physical health and mental health. The Healthy People score declined considerably between 2019 and 2020, in the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, from 99.6 to 95.4. This was caused by a decrease of 4.8 points in mortality and a decrease of 12.0 points in personal well-being, which was the greatest decline seen in 2020. The worsening of mental health also contributed to the decline of the Healthy People score. It fell by 0.9 points, including a 2.5 point decline in children’s social, emotional and mental health.

Healthy Lives covers risk factors for health that relate directly to individuals, such as healthy eating and high blood pressure. The Healthy Lives score was lower in 2020 (101.4) compared with 2019 (102.0) but remained higher than 2015 levels. This followed a general improvement between 2015 and 2019.

Healthy Places covers social and environmental risk factors for health that affect the population, such as air pollution and access to green space. The Healthy Places score increased considerably from 99.7 in 2019 to 103.4 in 2020. This was largely because of an improvement of 6.6 points in crime and of 15.7 points in air pollution, the greatest year-on-year improvement of any indicator. However, not every aspect of Healthy Places improved. Economic and working conditions declined by 2.9 points, mostly because of increasing levels of unemployment.

For more information on each category and subcategories please see Health Index contents and definitions.

Last updated: 9 November 2022

Read more about this in our Health Index for England: 2015 to 2020 bulletin.

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How did health change in your local area during the start of the pandemic?

Our interactive tool for the Health Index explores how health has changed in each local authority area across England. The tool gives an overall health score for each of the past six years from 2015 to 2020, showing how health changed during the early part of the coronavirus pandemic.

The score on the Health Index can show whether health in an area is improving. The Health Index score has a baseline of 100 as England’s health in 2015. A score higher than 100 means that area has better health for that measure than was average in 2015. A score lower than 100 means the area has worse health than the 2015 average.

Choose your local area below to see your Health Index scores.

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Last updated: 9 November 2022

Read more about this in our How health has changed in your local area: 2015 to 2020 article.

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Further information


In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) was adapted to collect data on the social impacts of the pandemic. It provides insight into how people's personal, home and work lives have changed through the pandemic. The data shows these impacts among different parts of our society, for example, on people of different age, sex, health, or regions. From 30 March 2022, changes were made to the OPN. Survey questions regarding the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and preventative measures taken as a result were broadened to cover other illnesses. Estimates provided from this period onwards are not directly comparable with estimates for periods prior to this. For full details see Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain: 30 March to 24 April 2022.

The COVID-19 Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey aims to understand people’s experiences of self-isolation. We present a range of data from surveys and publications from the Office for National Statistics including the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators.

To find out more about lifestyle data from different sources visit our more information page.

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