The Central Statistics Office has said that many of its economic and social statistics will be affected in terms of timeliness and data quality due to Covid-19 and the associated public health measures now in force.

But the CSO said it will endeavour to continue to publish relevant economic and social statistics during this period. 

It said it acknowledged and recognised the challenges being faced by its respondents, adding that it fully appreciated the worries and concerns of the public.

As the CSO's priority for all at this time is to stay safe and healthy, it said that all household interviews are now being conducted over the phone.

The statisticians said they also understood the severe difficulties now being faced by respondents to its business and economic surveys.

While filling in survey forms may not be a priority at present, the CSO said that collecting such information enables to report on the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and society.

The CSO highlighted the areas of work which it anticipate will be impacted, including the Consumer Price Index. 

It said today it intends to publish the inflation figures for March on April 9, in line with the usual timetable. 

But it said that collecting prices in shops is likely to be more problematic in April, and it is examining alternative internet-based collection methods to ensure that it can compile the consumer price index and all relevant sub-indices. 

The CSO also said it has suspended direct face-to-face household interviews in the quarterly Labour Force Survey, and CSO interviewers are now conducting all LFS household interviews over the phone.  

The annual Survey of Income and Living Conditions is now also being collected by telephone.

The CSO's Household Budget Survey takes places every five years and, at an early point in collecting the 2020 HBS, it has suspended the survey. 

It said that collecting the data involves a detailed interview about the household's income and expenditure and conducting this interview is not compatible with the need for social distancing. 

Meanwhile, the collection of Tourism Statistics at air and sea ports has been suspended, to protect CSO enumerators and the travelling public. 

The Tourism and Travel release for March 2020 and subsequent months will therefore contain considerably less detail than usual.

The CSO said it hopes to publish overall passenger totals for March onwards, based on administrative data, and to resume collection of statistics at airports and seaports when conditions permit. 

Collection of the monthly Household Travel Survey has also been suspended. 

"This postal survey asks households to list the domestic and foreign journeys they have undertaken in the past month. Given the vastly decreased level of travel being undertaken, both domestic and foreign, the CSO has decided it would be insensitive to continue with this survey at present," the office said.