Other commentary on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the UK economy and society is available on the following pages:Back to table of contents
- Over 8 in 10 adults (85.8%) in Great Britain said they were either very worried or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family would be infected by the coronavirus (COVID-19); this was higher for “at risk” groups, that is, those aged 70 years and over (91.7%) and those with underlying health conditions (90.4%).
- Over 7 in 10 adults (77.4%) stated they understood how to protect themselves from the coronavirus, however, fewer than half of adults (47.8%) said they had enough information about the UK’s plan for dealing with the coronavirus.
- Almost all the adults (99.8%) said they had washed hands with soap and water to avoid infection in the last seven days, with almost 9 in 10 (89.9%) saying they had increased the frequency of doing so since the coronavirus pandemic.
- Nearly 9 in 10 (89.2%) of all adults either cancelled or postponed plans because of the coronavirus or did not have plans in the past seven days.
- Just over half (50.6%) of all adults said someone had offered to organise or bring food and other essentials if they needed to self-isolate or became unwell; this rose to 83.3% for those aged 70 years and over.
To understand how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting life in Great Britain, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has started to collect weekly information on people’s experiences and opinions relating to the pandemic. These results will give an insight into how our personal, home and work lives are changing and what the impact is on our well-being and the communities in which we live.
This bulletin begins a weekly series providing an overview of the results from each survey. It contains breakdowns of results for identified “at-risk” groups; those aged 70 years and over and those with certain underlying health conditions. These conditions are listed in the glossary section. Further articles with more in-depth analysis of specific topics and populations will follow in the coming weeks.
The statistics in this publication are based on a survey of 1,588 adults sampled through the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) conducted online between 20 March 2020 and 30 March 2020 (inclusive). The 10-day data collection period spans the introduction of the Stay At Home measures by the government on Monday 23 March. Over three-quarters of responses were collected before this date, with the results more likely to reflect opinions at this time.Back to table of contents
The home and work lives of many people in Great Britain have changed since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is important to remember most people (over 75%) responded to this survey before the government announced the additional Stay at Home measures, which introduced greater restrictions on social interactions outside a household. This will likely be reflected in the responses.
Nearly 1 in 4 adults (23.8%) said they felt lonely often/always or some of the time. As is seen in similar reports on loneliness before the pandemic, levels of reported loneliness are lower amongst those aged 70 years and over (12.7%). For those with an underlying health condition it was 23.2%. More information on loneliness and well-being before the coronavirus pandemic is included in the release Coronavirus and social relationships and support for vulnerable groups.
There was a general reduction in face-to-face meetings that people said they had with family, friends and neighbours but an increased contact by phone or chatting online.
Over 6 in 10 adults (67.2%) said they had met in person with family members less since the coronavirus pandemic. However, 63.2% said they chatted on the phone or online more often with their family members.
For those aged 70 years and over, 74.0% said they had met family less, while 75.4% in this age group said they had chatted on the phone or online with their family more often than before the pandemic.
Nearly 8 in 10 adults (78.0%) said they had met in person with friends less since the coronavirus pandemic. However, just over half (52.4%) said they chatted on the phone or online more often with their friends.
For those aged 70 years and over, the proportions were higher, 85.1% said they had met friends in person less since the pandemic and 65.0% said they had chatted on the phone and online.
Just over 4 in 10 adults (41.6%) said they had met in person with neighbours less since the coronavirus pandemic, while 12.8% said they chatted with neighbours more on the phone or online. The proportion of those that said they met neighbours less in person was higher for those aged 70 years and over (59.7%) as was the proportion (24.6%) of the same group who said they had chatted on the phone or online with a neighbour.
Just over half (50.6%) of all adults also said someone has offered to organise or bring food and other essentials if they needed to self-isolate or became unwell. This rose to 83.3% for those aged 70 years and over. Those who offered help include family, friends and neighbours (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Who has offered to help you?
Great Britain, 20 to 30 March 2020
- Respondents asked to select all that apply.
Underlying health condition
In this bulletin adults with an underlying health condition include those with: Alzheimer’s disease or dementia; Angina or long-term heart problem; Asthma; Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s (Asperger syndrome); Cancer; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or long-term lung problem; Diabetes; Epilepsy or other conditions that affect the brain; High blood pressure; Kidney or liver disease; Stroke or cerebral haemorrhage or cerebral thrombosis; Rheumatoid arthritis.Back to table of contents
The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) is a monthly omnibus survey. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we have adapted the OPN to become a weekly survey used to collect data on the impact of the coronavirus on day-to-day life in Great Britain. In this first wave, 2,010 individuals were sampled, with a response rate of 79% (or 1,588 individuals) for the survey conducted from 20 to 30 March 2020.
The survey results are weighted to be a nationally representative sample for Great Britain, and data are collected using an online self-completion questionnaire.
More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey QMI.
A sample of 2,010 households were randomly selected from Wave 3 of the Labour Market Survey (LMS). From each household one adult was selected at random but with unequal probability. Younger people were given higher selection probability than older people because of under-representation in the sample available for the survey.
The responding sample contained 1,588 individuals. Survey weights were applied to make estimates representative of the population.
Weights were first adjusted for non-response and attrition. Subsequently, the weights were calibrated to satisfy population distributions considering the following factors: sex by age, region, tenure and highest qualification. For age, sex and region, population totals based on projections of mid-year population estimates for March 2020 were used. The resulting weighted sample is hence representative of the Great Britain adult population by a number of socio-demographic factors and geography.Back to table of contents
The main strengths of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) include:
- it allows for timely production of data and statistics that can respond quickly to changing needs
- it meets data needs: the questionnaire is developed with customer consultation and design expertise is applied in the development stages
- robust methods are adopted for the survey’s sampling and weighting strategies to limit the impact of bias
- quality assurance procedures are undertaken throughout the analysis stages to minimise the risk of error
The main limitations of the OPN include:
- the sample size is relatively small: 2,010 individuals per week with less completed interviews, meaning that detailed analyses for subnational geographies and other sub-groups aren’t possible
- the mode is online only so the sample may be subject to more bias than usual
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 65 1827