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Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on lifestyle


Around one in nine adults (11%) said their finances were affected by the coronavirus pandemic (18 to 28 November 2021, Great Britain). Under a third (29%) of working adults reported working from home at some point in the past seven days.

Around half (49%) of higher education students had taken a COVID-19 test in the previous seven days (England, 5 November to 15 November 2021).

At the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (30 September 2021), 16% of businesses reported having had employees on furlough.

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Impact on everyday life

Around one in nine adults said their finances were affected by the coronavirus pandemic

Around one in nine adults (11%) said the coronavirus pandemic affected their finances in the past seven days. Over 6 in 10 (65%) adults said that their cost of living increased in the last month (reported between 18 to 28 November 2021, Great Britain).

The most common reasons reported for this increase in cost of living were:

  • an increase in the price of food shopping (87%)
  • an increase in gas or electricity bills (77%)
  • an increase in the price of fuel (76%)

It should be noted that there are strong seasonal spending patterns relating to gas and electricity that may affect these results.

Last updated: 03/12/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

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The National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by the charity Refuge, experienced increased demand in quarters that coincided with the longest national lockdowns in England.

Please note that Refuge data are not classified as official statistics. The 24-hour freephone for National Domestic Abuse Helpline (run by Refuge) is available on 0808 2000 247 for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last updated: 24/11/2021

Read more about this in Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview

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Police recorded crime fluctuated with changes in national lockdown restrictions

Police recorded crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse), England and Wales, monthly figures (January 2020 to June 2021)

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Total police recorded crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse) fell in spring 2020 and again at the start of 2021, coinciding with the introduction of national lockdowns.

Theft and robbery offences decreased in the year ending June 2021, compared with the previous year. These were likely to be driven by restriction measures, with non-essential shops and the night-time economy being closed and people spending more time at home.

The Telephone Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) showed that half (49%) of adults noticed individuals breaching coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in their local area since the pandemic began. Of these, 7% reported the breach to the police. The most common reason for harassment in public spaces was because of the coronavirus pandemic (19%). This included experiences related to social distancing and lockdown restrictions.

Last updated: 04/11/2021

Read more about this in Crime in England and Wales: year ending June 2021

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Compliance with COVID-19 guidance

Only 19% of adults reported seeing everyone or almost everyone wearing a mask while shopping

This data was collected between 18 and 28 November 2021 in Great Britain, before the rules on face coverings changed in England.

  • The majority (71%) of those who went shopping in the past seven days reported wearing a mask often or always.
  • Only 19% reported seeing everyone or almost everyone wearing a mask while shopping.
  • Around 1 in 20 (7%) adults had been asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative test in the past seven days (excluding for travel abroad).
  • The proportion of adults who reported self-isolating in the past seven days was 4%, up slightly from 3% in the previous period (3 to 14 November).
  • Around a third (31%) of all adults said they always reported the result of a lateral flow test to the NHS, while 20% reported never taking one since the start of the pandemic.

Last updated: 03/12/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

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Three in four people self-isolated after a positive COVID-19 test

1 to 6 November 2021, England
  • Around three quarters (75%) of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 fully adhered to isolation requirements throughout the full self-isolation period; this has remained stable since June but is a decrease from 86% in May 2021. 

  • Adherence with self-isolation requirements was lower between the onset of symptoms and receiving a positive test result (71%), compared with 24 hours following a positive result (98%) and the remainder of the self-isolation period (93%). 

  • Just over a third (34%) of individuals reported that self-isolation had a negative effect on their well-being and mental health. 

Last updated: 24/11/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England

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Homeworking and furlough

Over two-thirds of working adults are travelling to work

Percentage of working adults, Great Britain, January to November 2021

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Between 18 and 28 November 2021, 71% of working adults reported travelling to work at some point in the past seven days, compared to 67% in the previous period (3 to 14 November 2021). Around 3 in 10 working adults (29%) reported working from home at some point in the past seven days.

A third (33%) reported that they are now more likely to work from home if they have a cold, compared with before the coronavirus pandemic.

Last updated: 03/12/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

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Almost one in six businesses reported having had employees on furlough at the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ended on 30 September 2021. In late October 2021, 16% of businesses not permanently stopped trading were reported to have had employees on furlough at the end of the CJRS.

Following the end of the CJRS, those 16% of businesses were asked approximately what proportion of those furloughed employees had:

  • been made permanently redundant – 3%
  • returned to work on increased hours – 6%
  • returned to work on the same number of hours – 65%
  • returned to work on reduced hours – 16%
  • voluntarily left their role – 3%
  • other – 8%

Further industry and size band breakdowns of end of furlough questions are available in the accompanying dataset.

Last updated: 04/11/2021

Read more about this in Business insights and impact on the UK economy

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Impact on education

Around half (49%) of higher education students had taken a COVID-19 test in the previous seven days

Around half (49%) of students had taken a COVID-19 test in the previous seven days and 47% reported trying to keep a two-metre distance from people outside their household always or most of the time (5 to 15 November 2021).

When asked what they would do if they developed symptoms:  

  • 90% of students reported they would request a test  

  • 57% of students reported they would stay at home for 10 days

Last updated: 29/11/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and higher education students: England, 5 to 15 November 2021

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Pupils working from home during the pandemic covered substantially less material than their peers in the classroom

  • Pupils working from home during the pandemic covered substantially less material than their peers in the classroom, according to teacher assessments (England, April 2020 to June 2021). 

  • The difference between the materials covered by remote and in-class pupils was larger for primary schools than for secondary schools, with remote learning primary school pupils covering a much smaller fraction of the learning materials than their in-class peers. 

  • Younger pupils' learning was more dependent on parental involvement than older pupils. 

  • Remote learning has been less effective for the teaching of some subjects than for others, with a larger reduction in materials covered being reported for arts, design and technology than for other subjects.

Last updated: 22/09/2021

Read more about this in Remote schooling through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, England: April 2020 to June 2021

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Travel

The number of average daily flights expressed as a percentage of the level seen on the equivalent day in 2019, fell between 1 March and 1 May 2020 in Spain, UK, France, and Germany by 95, 90, 89 and 82 percentage points, respectively. Since November 2020 the proportion has been lowest in the UK compared with Spain, France and Germany.

Last updated: 18/11/2021

Read more about this in Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators

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Further information


In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey 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. The COVID-19 Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey is designed to understand self-isolation experiences of people who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace. We also present work data from various surveys and publications from the Office for National Statistics including the Business Insights and Conditions Survey and 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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Contact

Latest insights team
infection.survey.analysis@ons.gov.uk