The outbreak of COVID 19 is an unprecedented shock in an era of highly connected and globalised living. It is a serious medical emergency and also an episode that we must learn from for at least three reasons:
- Though these situations are rare, it is vitally important to position ourselves to respond better to similar shocks in future.
- Decisions, taken at short notice, have required huge societal adaptation in all aspects of life. Society has had to adapt to new modes of access to people, goods, services and opportunities. It is important to understand what adaptations have been possible, how they are being maintained, and how they have impacted the population. This will be a very powerful resource to inform research and policymaking.
- Our society will emerge through the other side of the outbreak in a different position. This relates to public and personal finances, employment, IT systems, transport provision, social norms and much more. It is important to understand the innovations that lead to societal acceptance of these enormous changes.
This research project is addressing these questions through three connected sets of data collection:
- A major three wave panel survey (N=5000 end of wave three) which will enable the anticipated and actual behavioural responses of a wide range of individuals to be captured. The data collection will occur in London, Bristol, Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Newcastle and wider city region, Glasgow and wider Strathclyde area and other areas of more rural Scotland. Our aim is also to be able to differentiate outcomes by the nature of the places. Also, in some cases, by different approaches to introducing and releasing the restrictions.
- Two waves of qualitative interviews (N=100 conducting both) enabling a more in-depth exploration of ideas generated by the quantitative work which are harder to extract from questionnaires. These will be conducted at a sub-set of the quantitative data collection sites.
- A three wave survey with experts from across government and industry exploring preparedness for the pandemic, responses at the time, and views of what might happen next. The interviews will provide rapid feedback to decision-makers about the state of play across the industry. In addition, they will build our understanding of crisis response, foresight and the importance of the interactions between industry and citizen preferences and the science and policy positions adopted in response the virus.