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Apparent Effects of Policy on Epidemic

When we look at the rate of and direction of change in the COVID symptom tracking app data, published by the team at ZOE, and King's College London, we can see clearly the effects of various government policy decisions, and their effects on social behaviour across the UK (see graph below).

Though the UK government is only making policy decisions that directly affect England, given that the population of England is around 85% of the UK population (Wales: 4.7%, Scotland: 8%, Northern Ireland: 2.8%), policy decisions effecting England seem have the most pronounced effect on the epidemic nationally. Because of this, the discussion below only discusses policy changes in England, this is not intended to be political, but rather pragmatic.

There is a consistent trend emerging within the dataset below, where seven days after a government announcement, published ‘rumour’ or policy introduction, we see a potentially causal change in the data.

Key events are lists below and labelled on the graph below:

E1 04 Jul ▶ Fourth national lockdown easing in England: Pubs, cafes, restaurants, museums, cinemas, libraries, community centres, hairdressers, outdoor gyms, and children’s playgrounds reopen.

E2 24 Jul ▶ Face coverings mandatory indoors. (Pink Box)

E3 25 Jul ▶ Indoor gyms, swimming pools, and sports facilities reopen.

E4 15 Aug ▶ Bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos, indoor play and soft play centres, beauty salons, tattoo studios, and spas reopen.

E5 22 Aug ▶ Second wave begins, 7 days after latest lockdown restriction lifting.

E6 14 Sep ▶ The rule of six is introduced in England

E7 21 Sep – 05 Oct ▶ Universities start new term.

E8 14 Oct ▶ UK Government introduces tiered local lockdown system in England.

E9 31 Oct ▶ England lockdown rumour circulates in media.

E10 05 Nov ▶ England lockdown begins.

E11 12 Nov ▶ England's lockdown begins to show an effect from this point.

E12 02 Dec ▶ England's second lockdown ends.



On the 15th August 2020, the final stage of lockdown lifting occurred. Seven days after this policy change, the second wave of the epidemic began.

On 14th September 2020, the rule of six was introduced; seven days later, the increase in epidemic growth began to slow.

Between 21st Sept – 5th Oct 2020, University term began, which appeared to reverse the effect of the rule of six, and on 6th Oct 2020, the epidemic growth slowdown reversed, and the second wave growth began accelerating again.

On 14th October 2020, the UK government introduced a multi-tiered lockdown protocol for local epidemic spikes in England; eight days later, the increase in epidemic growth began to slow again.

On 31st October 2020, the UK second wave appeared to reach its peak, and began to shrink. On the same day, a rumour appeared in the national press that the UK government would re-introduce a lockdown in England. This was later confirmed to start on the 5th Nov 2020. Seven days later (7th Nov) we see the shrinkage of the epidemic begin to slow. Possibly due to people moving around more and socialising more in anticipation of their pending loss of freedoms.

On the 5th November 2020, lockdown in England began.


All data presented in the charts and analysis on this website come exclusively from external sources. The data is downloaded and updated live using APIs as you peruse this site. This datahub is intended as a convenient portal to access the data, and see a variety of different analytical representations. It is not intended as a primary source, and as such we make no warranties or claims to the authenticity or accuracy of the data presented here; you should access directly the source data for critical decision making.