Phone data shows we are staying at home less than first lockdown

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in Manchester, in the final week of a four

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in the final week of a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. - Credit: PA

Mobile phone data suggests fewer people in Norfolk are staying at home compared to the first lockdown last March.

Known as ‘mobility data’, the stats are collected by Google, which tracks the location histories on people’s mobile phones.

The internet giant then categorises the results by six locations: parks, supermarkets and pharmacies, retail and recreation, the workplace, public transport and at home.

By comparing that data to before the pandemic hit the UK, you can see an increase or decrease in time spent at those locations.

Using Google’s data, we looked at the Norfolk figures for the first Friday of each English lockdown - March, November and this January.


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The data shows a decrease in movement for the majority of locations in all three lockdowns, with an obvious exception being the amount of time people spend at home.

In the first lockdown people spent 25pc more time at home, compared to before.

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But in subsequent lockdowns the decrease was much lower, dropping to 13pc in the second lockdown and 20pc this time around – 5pc lower than the first lockdown.

A third lockdown was announced on January 5, with a stay-at-home order still in place across England.

The amount of time spent at parks has dropped 27pc compared to the previous lockdown, which isn’t surprising given the weather and time of year.

But we are spending more time at work.

In March, use of the workplace was down 60pc compared to the baseline.

That figure fell by half to -30pc in November, while at the start of this lockdown it was -43pc – a difference of 17pc compared to March.

This doesn’t mean more people are flouting lockdown rules.

Compared to March, more things are open, such as nurseries, garden centres and estate agents, which could explain the increase of time spent in the workplace.

An ONS survey conducted over the Christmas period suggests support for lockdown remains high, with almost 80pc of people in the UK still supporting restrictions.

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