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NISRA publishes results of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Opinion Survey

The third set of results from the NISRA Coronavirus (COVID-19) survey were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency. These results are based on 3,405 interviews with members of the public carried out in the period 21 April to 17 September 2020.

Concerns about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • Just over seven out of ten people (71%) said that they were very worried or somewhat worried about the effect the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their lives.

  • However, these levels of worry appear to be decreasing over time. In April and May, more than three quarters of people interviewed (76% and 77% respectively) said that they were worried about the effect the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their lives. This was significantly higher than the period from June onwards, when this proportion decreased and was in the range 68%-69%.

Home Schooling

  • Over half of those who had home-schooled their children (54%) agreed home schooling was negatively affecting the well-being of the child/children in their household, but almost a third (31%) strongly or somewhat disagreed.

  • Almost three quarters (74%) strongly or somewhat agreed that they had access to the resources they needed to help them home school their child/children well, whilst just over one in five (21%) somewhat or strongly disagreed.

Financial Concerns

  • Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, three quarters of people (75%) thought it was easy to pay their usual household bills. Just over one in five people (22%) reported it was neither easy nor difficult, whilst 3% thought it was difficult.

  • Since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, perceptions around paying usual household bills have changed, with fewer people (63%) reporting it was easy to pay their usual household bills and more people (14%) stating it was difficult to do so.

  • Almost two thirds of people (63%) thought they would be able to save any money in the next twelve months, whilst over a third of people (37%) thought they could not.

  • Over one in ten people (13%) interviewed from July onwards, said they had borrowed more money or used more credit cards than usual since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, whilst the majority of people (87%) had not.

Social Distancing

  • The vast majority of people (93%) reported, staying always or often, at least two metres away from other people when outside their home.

Personal Wellbeing

  • The average (mean) wellbeing rating of people interviewed in the period April-September 2020 for ‘life satisfaction’ (7.63) was significantly lower (in a statistical sense) than that reported by NISRA for the 2018/19 year (7.89).

  • The average (mean) wellbeing rating of people interviewed in the same period for ‘anxiety’ (3.20) was significantly higher (in a statistical sense) than that reported by NISRA for 2018/19 (2.83).

  • However, as we move through the pandemic period, ‘life satisfaction’ ratings appear to be increasing and ‘anxiety’ levels are decreasing.

  • The average (mean) wellbeing ratings in August 2020 for ‘life satisfaction’ (7.79) was significantly higher (in a statistical sense) than that reported during the lockdown period in May 2020 (7.42).

  • The average (mean) wellbeing rating for ‘anxiety’ was significantly higher (in a statistical sense) during the lockdown period in May 2020 (3.51) than when the restrictions eased in August 2020 (3.01).

Community Support and Safety

  • The vast majority of people (97%) reported feeling safe in their home since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

  • Almost half of people (48%) said they felt safe outside their home since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, but more than one quarter (28%) reported they felt unsafe.

  • Following the easing of lockdown, people interviewed in August (19%) were twice as likely to think that anti-social behaviour had gone up a lot or a little compared to people interviewed in April (8%) and May (9%).


  • Approximately, half of people (52%) thought that some aspect of their lifestyle had changed for the better since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, whilst just under half (48%) did not.

  • Approximately, six in ten of these people said they were keeping in touch more with family and friends (62%), spending more quality time with the people they live with (62%) or they had a slower pace of life (59%).

Information and Advice

  • Practically all people (95%) felt they had received enough information on how to protect themselves from Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Over half of people (56%) said that they had enough information about Government plans for the easing of restrictions due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, whilst just over two-fifths (44%) felt they did not.

  • Two thirds of people (66%) supported the easing of stay-at-home measures put in place in Northern Ireland, but almost one in five people (19%) did not.

Face Coverings

  • The results show that the wearing of face coverings outside of homes increased significantly over the pandemic period.  Over a quarter of people (28%) interviewed in June, said they had used a face covering outside their home to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This proportion increased to 84% during the month of August 2020.

  • The proportion of people who reported that, they would be unlikely to wear a face covering when outside their home, has decreased significantly over the pandemic period from 44% in June to 8% in August.

Notes to editors:

  1. Each chart in the report is also supported by an excel spreadsheet which provides confidence intervals for each estimate. Additional tables for other variables asked in Phases 1-4 have been also been published in this release, where validated data is of a sufficient quality to release. A visual representation of these findings can also be found at the following webpage:

  2. NISRA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Opinion Survey was launched on 20 April 2020 and is designed to measure how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was affecting peoples’ lives and behaviour in Northern Ireland.

  3. The NISRA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Opinion Survey questionnaire was based on a similar survey that was being conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in Great Britain. Results for this survey are available at the following link:

  4. ONS provided NISRA with each of the questionnaires they had used in their weekly surveys.  The questions asked in the ONS weekly surveys evolved throughout the pandemic period, however, there was a degree of consistency with the majority of questions being retained in each version of the questionnaire.

  5. NISRA carries out its Coronavirus (COVID-19) survey as a weekly survey with the questionnaire being refreshed every four weeks.  Each four week period is, therefore, considered to be a new phase of the survey.

  6. NISRA is currently planning to carry out seven phases of the survey.  Further results from the survey will be published periodically as more data becomes available when Phases 5-7 fieldwork periods close. 

  7. The weekly samples for the NISRA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey consisted of a systematic random sample of 1,000 addresses selected from the NISRA Address Register (NAR). The NAR is developed within NISRA and is primarily based on the Land & Property Services (LPS) Pointer database. From 10 August 2020, the weekly sample size was doubled to 2,000 addresses.

  8. The interviews were carried out using CATI (computer assisted telephone interview).  NISRA does not hold any details relating to persons living at the sampled addresses or telephone contact details.  Therefore, NISRA wrote out to the sampled addresses and asked them to contact the Agency by telephone or online to organise/book a convenient time for the interview to take place.  The interviews were conducted by NISRA Survey Interviewers.

  9. The results in this release relate to data from Phase 1 to Phase 4 of the survey.  In total, 3,405 persons from Phase 1 to Phase 4 addresses participated in the survey.  The interviews took place in the period 21 April to 17 September 2020.  This represents a survey response rate of 23% of eligible addresses.

  10. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for taking part in the NISRA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Opinion Survey.

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