The 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) was conducted over a 4 month period from 15th June to 5th September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was collected online or via telephone interviewing only. There was no face-to-face interviewing conducted in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Because of this changed methodology and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the Australian population, care should be exercised when making comparisons with 2019.
During the time that the GSS was conducted, initiatives were in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support the economy, including:
- international travel restrictions
- border control measures for some states and territories
- stimulus payments including:
- a Coronavirus Supplement paid fortnightly from 27 April 2020 to eligible income support recipients along with their usual payments
- a JobKeeper Payment passed in legislation on 15 April 2020 and paid to employers to keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the COVID-19 restrictions (extended until March 2021)
- various restrictions, including shutting down non-essential services, limits on gatherings and social distancing rules from March 2020
- a guided easing of these restrictions in many states and territories using the National Cabinet agreed three step framework introduced in early May 2020 (with the exception of Victoria as described below).
A second wave of COVID-19 emerged in Victoria from mid-June 2020 leading to stronger restrictions within the state from August 2020, including:
- mandatory face coverings in public
- ‘stay at home’ restrictions including curfews and a small number of provisions to leave home for exercise, grocery shopping, and essential work, medical care and caregiving
- a return to remote learning for schools with onsite access to schools and child care restricted to essential workers with permits
- closing onsite operation of retail, administration and some manufacturing businesses for 6 weeks (with the exception of essential businesses)
- a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment introduced for people who are required to take 14 days of leave to self-isolate or quarantine at home or care for someone with COVID-19 and who have no income or appropriate leave entitlements.