Covid: The impact of the pandemic in the UK during 2020 in eight charts

Data from across the UK government and devolved administrations highlight the effects of the pandemic on the economy and society. Credit: PA

The Covid-19 has had a major impact on many aspects of our life and the economy in 2020.

Statistics from the Office of National Statistics show the scale of deaths as well as the major changes to travel, trade and wellbeing.

These eight charts show how life in the UK has changed during an extraordinary year.

  • Deaths since March were 20% above average

Source: Office for National Statistics – Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales Credit: ONS

Death registrations in England and Wales compared with the five-year average (2015 to 2019), by whether or not COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Covid-19 has been mentioned on 69,771 death certificates in England and Wales in the year to 4 December 2020 (end of week 49).

This is 12.3% of all deaths for that period.

The 428,306 total deaths registered – from all causes – since the week ending 27 March (week 13) were about 20% (71,167) higher than the average for the same period over the previous five years.

  • Lockdown changed how and when we travelled

Source: Department for Transport

Transport use by mode, as percentage of an equivalent day or week before the first national lockdown, Great Britain, March to December 2020.Cycling in England, was the only mode of transport to record a rise during the first full lockdown, according to data from the Department for Transport (DfT).

It has since declined to below March levels, which can be attributed to the colder and wetter months.

As many workers followed the stay at home instruction, rail use in April and May fell to as low as 4% of February levels

  • Arrivals to the UK down 73%

Source: Home Office

Weekly air passenger arrivals, UK, 6 January to 25 October 2020, compared with equivalent week in 2019.

As the coronavirus spread, the UK government advised against all non-essential foreign travel on 17 March 2020. In April, arrivals were 1% of their 2019 level, according to data from the Home Office.

  • Almost a third of workers were furloughed by summer

Source: Office for National Statistics - Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey

Proportion of businesses’ workforce on partial or full furlough leave by industry, UK, 23 March to 29 November 2020.

From April 2020, millions of UK workers whose employers were unable to continue trading at the same levels as before the lockdown were supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, also known as furlough.

The ONS Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) Wave 7 found 30% of workers across businesses that had not permanently stopped trading were on furlough leave between 1 June and 14 June 2020.

  • How UK trade fell then rose and now has stalled

UK trade saw a record decline and then a record increase, but the recovery has stalled Credit: ONS

Monthly UK trade, excluding precious metals, (£ billion), seasonally adjusted, January 2019 to October 2020.

The UK economy, measured by gross domestic product (GDP), shrank by a record 19.5% in April 2020, following the start of the first lockdown on 23 March. By October 2020, GDP was still down 7.9% compared with February and since July 2020, there has been a loss in momentum across all main sectors.

Total trade in goods and services, excluding precious metals fell during the first lockdown. Exports totalled £41.4 billion in May 2020 compared with £56.4 billion in the same month of 2019. Imports decreased from £58.9 billion to £38.0 billion over the same period.

  • The switch to home learning

Source: Department for Education

Attendance at state-funded schools during the first lockdown and since the summer holidays, England, March to December 2020.

According to Department for Education data, in the first week of the national lockdown, 2% of students in state-funded schools in England – an average of just under 200,000 per day – were still attending. These included vulnerable children and children of key workers.

Between 7 May and 7 June 2020, 87% of parents said a child in their household had been home-schooled because of the pandemic, according to the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

  • The mental well-being of the nation

Source: Office for National Statistics – Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

Average anxiety ratings were substantially higher at the end of March 2020 as the first lockdown began, with adults rating themselves an average of 5.2 out of 10.

Since then, anxiety ratings have decreased reaching a low of 3.5 in July. They rose again to just over four in the autumn and remained higher than pre-lockdown levels in February.

Life satisfaction also decreased to its lowest score since records began in 2011, with an average 6.5 out of 10 between 28 October and 1 November, before rising to 6.8 between 10 and 13 December.

  • More people can now see a point when life will return to normal

Source: Office for National Statistics – Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

Percentage of adults who believe life will return to normal in six months or less or more than a year, Great Britain, March to December 2020.Throughout spring and summer, the proportion of adults in Great Britain who thought normal life was more than a year away grew, peaking between 16 and 20 September at 41%.

Towards the end of the year that had changed and by 10 to 13 December around a quarter of adults (23%) reported that they think life will return to normal in six months or less, an increase from around 1 in 10 (9%) on 21 to 25 October, but a decrease from 28% between 2 to 6 December.