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Google tracking reveals where Norfolk people have been going during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:22 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:14 04 May 2020

Posters from the 'UK Freedom Movement' failed to drum up support for an illegal mass gathering during lockdown at Eaton Park. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

Posters from the 'UK Freedom Movement' failed to drum up support for an illegal mass gathering during lockdown at Eaton Park. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

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New figures have shown visits to Norfolk’s parks and open spaces seem to be increasing during the coronavirus lockdown.

And council bosses have urged people to be responsible when using them for exercise.

Data from Google showed that, after people initially stayed away when lockdown was imposed in March, visits have been increasing.

On Sunday, March 29, visits to parks and open spaces had dropped to 69pc of normal levels, but on Thursday, April 23 - in a month which saw plenty of sunshine - visits were just 7pc below normal levels.

The average, since lockdown in mid-March, saw visits to Norfolk’s parks and open spaces down to 23pc on normal levels. In Suffolk, such visits were 18pc down, while nationally it was a 10pc reduction on the norm.

People are still allowed to use parks as part of their daily exercise, although people should not to gather in groups outside their household and should exercise social distancing.

A Norwich City Council spokesman said: “As different sectors of the UK begin the gradual and phased return to work, following government guidance, there are naturally more people out and about than we’ve seen in recent weeks due to lockdown. Our parks and open spaces reflect those changes.

“We are hugely grateful to everyone who has stuck to the governmental guidance on social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak. Our parks team has been and about and about checking our parks on a regular basis and have noticed more people using our parks.

“We know it’s hard, especially given the time of year, but please remember that our parks and open spaces are open for vital exercise only, and that they should be used sensibly.”

Google used location data to chart trends in people’s movement in the home, retail and recreation establishments, grocery stores and pharmacies, public transport hubs, and parks and green spaces.

The statistics for Norfolk showed, to no real surprise, given the majority of shops remain shut, that visits to retail and recreation have been between 70pc to 90pc less than normal during lockdown.

Visits for groceries and to pharmacies have been at between 30pc to 40pc down on normal levels during lockdown.

Trips to the workplace have generally been at the 60pc fewer than normal mark, although there have been occasions when that has been nearer to 50pc.

The lockdown means people have been staying away from Norwich city centre. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANThe lockdown means people have been staying away from Norwich city centre. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Google’s data also shows that people visiting public transport stations has fallen by an average of 54pc on normal levels since lockdown began.

That was less of a reduction than the national average of a 64pc reduction, but higher than the 43pc reduction in Suffolk.

Footfall in residential areas since lockdown began on March 23 has consistently been higher than normal. The Norfolk average is 12pc up on normal and Suffolk 13pc. The United Kingdom average is 14pc, so both counties are slightly below that.

Data is only used by Google account users who opted-in to its location history service.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to reveal the government’s plan to begin to ease the lockdown restrictions on Sunday.

MORE: Norfolk survey reveals people against easing of lockdown


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