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6 November 2020

The British population has been asked about the impacts that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on their lives, and how they are coping. The latest findings are published in our weekly bulletin Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain.

With various restrictions in place across Great Britain in the latest week (28 October to 1 November 2020), around 7 in 10 (71%) adults said that they strongly support or tend to support the use of targeted lockdown measures for local areas affected by coronavirus outbreaks; this percentage has been declining since the end of September (82% over the period 30 September to 4 October).

We also found this week that a lower percentage of those who were in higher tier levels in England reported that they had enough information about government plans to manage the coronavirus pandemic (Tier 2: 37% and Tier 3: 34%). This compares with 45% of those in Tier 1.

Rising COVID-19 infections and the reintroduction of some restrictions appear to have had an impact on general well-being. Life satisfaction scores were at their lowest (6.5 out of 10) since the survey started, and happiness scores continued to decrease for the third week in a row (6.7 out of 10).

Similar proportions of people across each of the local COVID alert areas reported that they are very or somewhat worried about the effect of the coronavirus on their life right now (76% in Tier 1, 77% in Tier 2, 78% in Tier 3). However, there were some differences in concerns reported between the alert areas. The concerns with the largest differences between those in Tier 3 and those in Tier 1 were the lack of freedom and independence (68% and 57% respectively) and well-being (for example, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and stress) (57% and 50% respectively).

View our summaries of death and health and economic impacts, or go to our main roundup page for the latest across all topics.

This page is a summary of insights from our most recent analysis and will be updated as new publications are released. Sign up to our email alerts for daily updates in your inbox.

This page was last updated at 09:30 on 6 November 2020.

6 November 2020

Regional differences in local COVID-19 alert system

More than three-quarters (77%) of adults in the North West of England reported they have been living under the most stringent local coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown measure.

The government’s local COVID-19 alert system was introduced on 12 October, 2020 and classified local areas under a ”tier” system.

Different rules applied in different parts of the country for meeting up with others outside their household or support bubble, of which the majority of the North West was in Tier 3.

A second national lockdown for England, started on 5 November, before responses for this survey for the period 28 October to 1 November 2020, were collected.

Under the alert system, according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN), the region with the highest proportion of adults reporting living under Tier 2 restrictions was the North East, with 95%.

The South West had the highest proportion (93%) of people reporting they were living in the lowest level of restrictions, Tier 1.

This week, we asked adults about the rules that applied where they live. In Tier 1, 89% of adults identified with the rule that people must not meet in groups larger than six indoors.

In Tier 2 and Tier 3, the majority of adults (73% and 80% respectively) identified with the rule that people must not meet indoors with others from outside their household.

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28 October 2020

Crime decreased at height of lockdown

There has been a 19% decrease in the number of victims of crime in England and Wales between April and June 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

Statistics from the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) show that the decrease in overall crime, during the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, was largely driven by a 30% drop in thefts overall, compared with the previous quarter in 2020.

The lockdown, which was implemented at the end of March 2020, prompted a societal change, in that people were staying at home, making it difficult for theft crimes to be committed.

Total police recorded crime decreased by 4% in England and Wales to approximately 5.8 million offences in the 12 months ending June 2020; the annual decrease was mainly driven by substantial falls during the April to June 2020 period, particularly in theft offences.

The quarter from April to June 2020 also saw a 43% drop in theft offences and a 47% drop in robberies, compared with April to June 2019. This reflects the increase in time people spent at home during the lockdown, reducing opportunities for theft in public spaces, and the closure of the night-time economy.

By contrast, recorded drug offences rose by 30% in April to June 2020 (57,132 offences) compared with April to June 2019. This reflected proactive police activity in crime hotspots and was largely driven by offences involving the possession of drugs.

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23 September 2020

Diary of a nation: life in lockdown

Six months ago, lockdown measures were introduced in Great Britain to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and throughout this time, we have been asking people about their opinions and behaviours.

We have now presented people’s experiences in their own words, capturing how people across the country have been coping with the many changes brought about by the pandemic.

In March, more than half of adults said they thought life would be back to normal within six months. However, when the same question was posed to people in August, “more than a year” was the most popular response, with over a third (37%) of adults saying they thought this is how long the pandemic would last.

The uncertainty people faced was clear to see in the survey’s free text responses, which we now present for the first time. One person said their life was “on hold” during self-isolation, while another said they lacked “any idea about when and how things might ‘return to normal’”.

Following five months of restrictions, and the end of the pandemic still not in sight, a third of adults said they felt COVID-19 was the most important issue facing Britain. However, others have expressed positive outcomes from the last six months, such as one respondent who said they “appreciate the little things that matter more” and another who said they were enjoying a “more thoughtful and engaging lifestyle”.

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17 September 2020

Returning to work, household finances and anxiety

Our latest bulletin on personal and economic well-being in Great Britain during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic explores how different people fared as lockdown restrictions eased, using results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN). OPN has been collecting data on the impact of COVID-19 on day-to-day life in Great Britain since 20 March 2020.

During June and early July 2020, more people returned to work, particularly those in the £10,000 to £20,000 income bracket. However, since mid-July, when three out of four employed people were back in work, this trend levelled off – though may be due to some people taking time off in the summer.

Despite the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, the number of people who thought that it would take more than a year for things to return to normal, if at all, started to increase again during July.

The bulletin also looks at how people fared financially. Around one in four people in employment reported reduced household income at the end of May, which declined to one in six and then stayed flat from mid-July.

At the end of July, more people expected it to take more than a year or never for life to return to normal, compared with mid-June

Share of the population on when they think their own life will return to normal, Great Britain, 27 March to 26 July 2020

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While improvements in finances stalled, financial resilience worsened throughout July, with one-third of the population reporting they were not able to find money for an unexpected but necessary expense by the end of the month. Parents and renters fared worse in this regard with around half of them unable to cover such an expense by the end of July, possibly because both groups were more likely to report reduced hours and not being able to work from home.

With regards to personal well-being, survey respondents were asked questions such as “overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?” The findings showed that there was a general increase in anxiety into July across the nation, particularly for those who are disabled, feel unsafe to go outside, or suffer with health conditions.

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4 September 2020

Return to school

More than half of parents of school-age children in England and Wales are worried about their children’s return to school next term.

Adults with dependent children were asked a series of questions about the oldest school age child in their household returning to school or college and 52% said they were very worried or somewhat worried about it.

This did not dissuade most parents with school age children from wanting their children to go back to school. Almost all (97%) in England and Wales, said it was very likely or fairly likely that the oldest school age child in their household would return to school or college when school reopens to them in the new term.

The main concern (58%) reported by adults with children of school age in the next term, is that they are worried about the oldest age child in their household catching the coronavirus (COVID-19) at school or college.

Nearly half (46%) of parents said the oldest child in their household has mixed feelings about returning to school or college, however, an additional 36% said they were looking forward to returning to school or college.

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27 August 2020

International travel

Restrictions on international travel have been in place since early 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Recently, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have started to ease travel restrictions for British travellers where countries are assessed as “no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people traveling abroad”. We have included analysis up to June 2020 of recent international travel in our migration release.

These insights are not measures of international migration as they refer to travel patterns by all types of passengers, not just international migrants.

Home Office recent passenger arrivals

Home Office statistics published today using Advanced Passenger Information (API) show that there were an estimated 1.3 million passenger arrivals (including returning UK residents) in April to June 2020. This is 97% (27.7 million) fewer than the same period in 2019, and it is because of the coronavirus travel restrictions.

At the same time, the number of applications for visitor visas in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2020 was 99% lower than in the same period in 2019.

Recent travel insights

Using data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), we can see that the number of international air passengers arriving to and departing from the UK has fallen substantially since March 2020. Further disaggregation by UK country and those departing from the UK is available within the chart download file.

There has been widespread decline in international air travel to the UK since March 2020

Annual percentage change in monthly air passenger arrivals at airports in the UK from airports in regions of the world, January to June 2020

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Source: Office for National Statistics analysis of Civil Aviation Authority data


  1. Country regions are where the foreign airport is located and are based on the country of residence groupings used in the International Passenger Survey (IPS).

  2. For more information on this analysis, please see Section 11 of our Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.

There have been similar falls in the number of people travelling to and from the UK by sea. Provisional monthly figures produced by the Department for Transport, show the effect of travel restrictions on passenger numbers for short international ferry routes to Ireland and other European countries began to be seen in March 2020. Further impacts were then seen between April and June with the largest decrease in April 2020, when total passenger numbers dropped by 85% compared with the previous year.

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26 August 2020

Perceptions of unity have decreased as the pandemic has progressed

As time has progressed through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, public perception on unity has altered. Between 24 April and 28 June 2020 the weekly Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) found that the percentage of adults who thought that Britain would be more united after the pandemic declined by 29 percentage points (from 57% in the first week of the period to 28% in the last week).

Over the period as a whole more people thought that Great Britain would be more united after the pandemic (46%) than before the outbreak (24%). When divided by nation, adults in Scotland were less likely (31%) to think Britain will be more united after the pandemic than those in England (47%) or Wales (44%).

Although people in Scotland were more likely to think that Britain will be united after the coronavirus pandemic than to think it was united before, they were less likely to say this than those in England or Wales

Percentage of people reporting different levels of unity in Britain before and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by country, Great Britain, 24 April to 28 June 2020

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A gender divide in perceptions of unity after the pandemic has emerged. While women were as likely as men to say that Britain was united before the pandemic, when asked to think about the future, 51% of women thought that the nations would be more united following the pandemic, while only 41% of men agreed.

The study found a correlation between perceptions of unity and higher average life satisfaction, happiness and feelings that things done in life are worthwhile. Other factors that were associated with perceptions of unity included checking on neighbours, feeling like the community is available to support you, and thinking people are doing more to help others.

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20 August 2020

Disabled people were most concerned about the impacts of coronavirus on their well-being and access to healthcare in July 2020

Our survey in July showed that disabled people were more likely to be worried about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their lives than non-disabled people. Three-quarters (75%) of disabled people said they were either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” compared with 66% of non-disabled people.

Of the worries they had, almost one-quarter of disabled people were most concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on their well-being (24%) (13% for non-disabled people). Next most frequently, 13% of disabled people reported being most concerned about access to healthcare and treatment (compared with 3% of non-disabled people).

Disabled people continue to experience poorer well-being ratings than before the pandemic started. In July 2020, 45% of disabled people reported high anxiety.

The survey results show that 25% of disabled people who were receiving medical care prior to the pandemic are receiving treatment for only some of their conditions, compared with 7% of non-disabled people in a similar situation.

Similar proportions of disabled people (43%) and non-disabled people (44%) said they had received visitors at their home. However, more disabled people told us they had not met up with other people than non-disabled people – 37% compared with 29% respectively.

Although more disabled people had left their home for some reason in July than May 2020, the proportion was still lower than non-disabled people. In July, 95% of non-disabled people had left their home for some reason compared with 87% of disabled people.

One reason for this difference might be because fewer disabled people (17%) report feeling safe outside their home than non-disabled people (27%).

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5 August 2020

Shielding behaviours changing with updated guidance

The guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people has changed in recent weeks. This is reflected in the responses to our Shielding Behavioural Survey.

Our latest survey was carried out between 9 and 16 July. It shows more CEV people are leaving their home and receiving visitors at their home.

Almost half (48%) of CEV people report not leaving their home at all or only leaving for exercise. This is lower than the 60% of people who said the same in the previous survey between 24 and 30 June.

The percentage of CEV people receiving no visitors at their home (other than for support for personal care) has decreased in each of the past three surveys. Between 28 May and 3 June, 87% of CEV people told us they had not received visitors at their home. This fell to 83% in the next survey (9 to 18 June), then 77% in the following one (24 to 30 June).

On 6 July, guidance for CEV people shielding changed to include forming a support bubble with another household. In our latest survey, 65% of CEV people reported receiving no visitors to their home (other than support for personal care).

Fifteen percent of CEV people live with someone under the age of 16 years. A fifth of those said living with children is impacting their ability to shield.

CEV shielding workers

Over a quarter (28%) of CEV people who were advised to shield were in employment before lockdown. Of that 28% of CEV people:

  • 11% continued to work outside their home

  • 37% now work from home

  • the remaining 52% were either furloughed, joined the self-employed income support scheme or stopped working

An estimated 38,000 (6%) CEV people who worked before lockdown said they would not return to work in the next four months. A fifth (21%) of CEV workers said they would continue to work from home for the next four months. That’s down from the 37% who said they are working at home now.

Almost one in four (23%) CEV workers said they didn’t know what their plans were for the coming four months.

There is some variation in how comfortable CEV people are with returning to work outside their homes.

More than two thirds (68%) of CEV workers said they were comfortable (44%) or completely comfortable (24%) with returning to work outside their home. However, their comfort level was dependent on protective measures being in place.

In comparison, 32% of CEV workers said they are not comfortable with returning to work outside their home.

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  • Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

    Indicators from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (covering 16 to 27 March 2022) of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain.

  • Coronavirus and housing indicators in England and Wales

    Recent housing indicators during the coronavirus (COVID-19) period. This article brings together a number of statistics that provide insights on housing, including property transactions, mortgage approvals and Energy Performance Certificates.

  • Parenting in lockdown: Coronavirus and the effects on work-life balance

    Parents in Great Britain who have been able to work through the coronavirus lockdown have adapted their working patterns around caring for their children. There were some clear trends in how that childcare was delivered.

  • Coronavirus and homeschooling in Great Britain

    Analysis of homeschooling in Great Britain during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

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