Google data shows how Suffolk's movements have changed in all 3 lockdowns

How many people are contracting coronavirus in Suffolk as we finish the first weekend under lockdown 3

How have people's movements changed in the three separate lockdowns? - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mobile phone tracking data collected by Google suggests that less people are staying at home in the third lockdown compared to the first back in March. 

Google has been using location data gathered from people’s phones to help public health bosses determine how closely the country has been sticking to lockdown rules.

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

By comparing that data to before the pandemic hit the UK in February 2020, you can see an increase or decrease in time spent at those locations.

We examined the Suffolk figures for the first Friday of each of the three English lockdowns, to see how much people are sticking to the rules. 

The data shows a decrease in movement in the majority of locations during all three lockdowns in March, November and January. 

The obvious exception here is the amount of time spent at home, with people in Suffolk spending 25% more time at home in the first lockdown, compared to before. 

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In the November lockdown - where restrictions were much less strict and schools remained open - the increase was lower, dropping to 15%. 

The third wave of restrictions, introduced on January 6, saw a 21% increase of people staying at home compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is 4% lower than the first lockdown, despite the stay-at-home message remaining the same. 

This rise could be due to the numbers of people continuing to go to work - with the list of keyworkers much greater than the first lockdown and other professions such as estate agents allowed to continue as normal with social distancing measures in place. 

Compared to March, there are more retail sites open, such as garden centres, and nurseries remain open for pre-school children, which could explain the increase of time spent in the workplace.

In this third lockdown, although levels are much lower than normal, more people have also been inclined to visit supermarkets and pharmacies. 

Numbers of people visiting these essential stores dropped to -23% on the first Friday of this year's lockdown, while at the start of the March lockdown it was -29% – a difference of 6%. 

Retail and recreation visits in Suffolk remain low, along with public transport trips. 

Visits to the workplace are also much lower than normal levels, as many businesses continue to work from home.

During the first lockdown this dropped to -61% when all offices were closed. This rose slightly in November once people returned to work to -32% and now it has gone back down to -44%. 

Data comes from Google account users who opted-in to its location history service. Statistics are based on a baseline value for that day of the week. The baseline used 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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