The COVID-19 outbreak which was declared a global pandemic in March 2020 plunged the global economy into recession as countries around the world instituted containment measures. These measures including movement restrictions including curfews, local and international travel bans, and closure of offices, businesses and schools persisted through the second quarter of 2020. While restrictions were eased gradually during the third and fourth quarters as transmission rates dropped, the remaining measures including social distancing continued to limit the return to normalcy for businesses and the economy.

Closure of economic activities resulted in reduction in demand for goods and services with a chain reaction of production slowdown, employment and working hours reduction and ultimately earnings decline. COVID-19, a new social distancing index produced by CEDEFOP identifies accommodation (food services), wholesale and retail trade, sales, shop work, social and personal services to be sectors with very high risk of job disruption and exposure to the COVID-19 risks. Globally, the hardest hit sectors are hospitality and leisure, manufacturing, food and drink, energy, and retail, while healthcare, ecommerce, online education and pharmaceuticals were least affected.