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Google data reveals how Covid-19 changed where we shop, work and play

PUBLISHED: 13:56 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 13:56 09 November 2020

Lockdown means shops, apart from those selling essential goods, have had to close again. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lockdown means shops, apart from those selling essential goods, have had to close again. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Figures, which track where people in Norfolk have been going, have highlighted the huge impact coronavirus has had on where we work, when we shop and how likely we have been to head to local parks.

With the second lockdown now in place, data from Google has shown how movements changed during and after the lockdown earlier this year.

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.

They show how the number of people in the workplace, unsuprisingly, plummeted when the first lockdown - with its message that all but key workers should stay at home - was introduced in March.

It had been slowly, but steadily, climbing since, with an associated slight drop in the numbers of people who were at home.

Police carried out checks in Eaton Park during the first lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice carried out checks in Eaton Park during the first lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The second lockdown may not see such a dramatic fall in numbers in the workplace, as the message this time is a less restrictive one, with people told they should work from home if they are able, rather than an insistence that people must.

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Use of parks in Norfolk soared during the summer and again at half-term in October - with people in the county making much more use of those places than the England averages.

With unlimited exercise permitted in this second lockdown, parks were, once again, busy over the mild weekend, and the weeks ahead could see more visits in the weeks ahead, depending on the weather.

Public transport took a huge hit when lockdown began, with the government initially urging people to avoid using it.

However, usage had been recovering since April, although still well below the levels expected in a normal, pandemic-free, year.

Retail and recreation had also increased, spurred by the Eat Out To Help Out campaign, over the summer, but will now clearly take a huge hit, with pubs and restaurants closed for all but takeaways until the end of lockdown.

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

The numbers are based on a baseline value for that day of the week. The baseline is the average for the corresponding day of the week during the five-week period January 3 to February 6, 2020.


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