Lukek21: It’s a simple answer too. The UK Passport office website says with regard to first adult passports that:
‘Passport interview services are temporarily unavailable because of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you need an interview, your application will be put on hold. If you need a passport urgently, for compassionate reasons (for example if a family member has died) or for government business, phone the Passport Adviceline.’
It also only says you ‘may’ be asked to attend an interview, but I think that it’s normal to be called in for a first adult passport. If they intend to ask you for an interview then your application will have been suspended until interview services are restored – whenever that is – unless they decide to bypass the interview requirement if it’s possible to verify identity another way.
What this means is that on the whole the only passport applications that can be processed currently are those that do not require interviews, or which do not require more complex checking. In practice therefore only standard renewals are going to be easily processed by reduced staff in the passport offices.
It’s worth bearing mind that only a few people are posting on this forum. Reading through the posts it’s clear that almost all the applications discussed here are of different types sent to different passport offices. There must be thousands, of other passport applications in the system at the moment about which we know nothing. Therefore there are few general conclusions that can be drawn about what is actually going on in the various passport offices. What we can say is that most applications are taking longer for one reason or another and some will have been suspended. We can also say that since passports cannot be processed by passport office staff working at home this is a service that will fall into the category of job where staff need to return to work. One can only hope that that is starting to happen. However, interview services will require more complex arrangements in order to meet government guidelines about workplace practices. There must also be something of a backlog now involving uncompleted applications from before the lockdown and others submitted since.