COVID-19 policy tracker 2020 A timeline of national policy and health system responses to COVID-19 in England in 2020

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  • Our COVID-19 policy tracker documents national government and health and social care system responses to COVID-19 in England, and how they changed over the course of 2020.
  • The interactive summary timeline below shows the key policies and events. Hover over each dot for details.
  • The full policy tracker with a more detailed timeline and greater detail on policy changes across five areas can be downloaded in spreadsheet format below.
  • This updated version of the tracker has details from the 31 December 2019 to 31 December 2020.

Governments across the world are seeking to limit the impact of COVID-19 on health and society. The pandemic has already had a fundamental effect on people’s lives.

Policy responses to COVID-19 are complex, context-specific, and rapidly evolving – with different countries pursuing varying approaches to managing the pandemic. Documenting these policies can help us understand and assess government responses to COVID-19 over time.

Our policy tracker provides a description and timeline of national policy and health system responses to COVID-19 in England in 2020. The full tracker includes data on what changes have been introduced, when, why, and by whom – as well as how these changes have been communicated by policymakers. We track policy changes in five areas – from health and care system changes to wider social and economic policy.

The interactive timeline below shows the key policies and events between 31 December 2019 and 31 December 2020, and there's more detail on what our five policy areas cover in the drop down boxes below.

You can also download the full COVID-19 policy tracker in Excel spreadsheet format. (Due to file size, we've split this into a spreadsheet for each of the five areas.) These full trackers describe a wider range of policy changes than the summary version, and include more data on what these changes are and how they have evolved.

What does the tracker cover?

The tracker focuses on national government and health and social care system responses to COVID-19 in England in 2020. In each of our five policy areas, the tracker documents a mix of data related to key policy interventions, including – where available – what it is, when it was introduced, who introduced it, the stated aims of the intervention, its key components, and links to relevant documents.

This part of the tracker focuses on the overall narrative of the government’s COVID-19 response. This includes how the government’s strategy has developed, the key policies it has pursued, and how these policies have been presented by government officials. It also includes major events or milestones to help tell the story of the government’s response.

This part of the tracker focuses on government policies to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes measures related to social distancing, transport restrictions, testing and contact tracing, and other parts of the public health response throughout the pandemic.

This part of the tracker focuses on the NHS and social care system’s response to prepare for and manage COVID-19 cases. This includes changes related to how care is delivered, as well as changes in policies on funding, workforce and capacity, payment systems, regulation, and other factors. We focus on changes introduced by national agencies, such as NHS England and Improvement, rather than the impact of COVID-19 or service changes in local areas.

This part of the tracker focuses on government interventions to support research and development related to COVID-19. This includes investment or support to develop COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, or guidance on research and development from government agencies. This part of the tracker does not track peer-reviewed research on COVID-19.

This part of the tracker focuses on government interventions to mitigate the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and the government’s response to it. This includes measures to support the economy, individuals, and wider public services, as well as changes to legislation and new state powers related to the government’s COVID-19 response.

We focus only on publicly available data from official sources, such as speeches by government ministers, government guidance, and NHS planning documents. We only cover key policies or interventions in each area. And we don’t track media or expert commentary related to the pandemic and the government’s response (unless named officials are interviewed). More detail on scope and data sources we use can be found in the full tracker spreadsheets.

Help us improve the tracker

Inevitably, there will be speeches or policy guidance that we missed or chose not to include. Please email Phoebe Dunn from the Health Foundation's Policy team if you think anything is missing, incorrect, out of date, or could be improved.


Many colleagues have contributed to the COVID-19 policy tracker project. We would like to thank colleagues at the Health Foundation, Nuffield Trust, and other organisations for their help and advice on the project. We would also like to thank Ellie Mendez Sayer for her research support.

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