East Riding commuters among the UK’s worst at shunning transport during lockdown, Google data reveals

The East Riding has seen one of the smallest reductions in public transport use in the UK during the coronavirus lockdown, data from Google suggests.

Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 2:12 pm
NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said most people are continuing to follow government guidance to stay at home to help reduce the number of hospitalisations due to coronavirus.

NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said most people are continuing to follow government guidance to stay at home to help reduce the number of hospitalisations due to coronavirus.

However, Google’s figures, which use location data to chart trends in people’s movement, show visits to public transport hubs in the East Riding fell by just 51% in the six weeks to the end of March compared to two months earlier.

Only a handful of places have witnessed a smaller drop-off, with visits to bus and train stations down by an average of 75% across the UK when compared to a previous five-week period at the start of the year.

Mr Powis said we are “continuing to see people adhering” to government policy – particularly on public transport.

Speaking recently at a daily coronavirus press conference, he said: “The sun might be out, but that doesn’t mean you should be out. We all need to make sure we resist the temptation, whatever the weather.

“This is not the time to be complacent and to take our foot off the pedal. We need to continue to comply with the instructions because that will continue to translate into a reduction in the number of hospitalisations.”

Google’s figures also show a 14% rise in activity in places of residence in the East Riding compared to a 52% reduction in places of work, as more people work from home.

Visits to retail and recreation places were also down by 85% – on a par with the UK average of 85%.

The British Independent Retailers Association said many successful businesses were fighting for survival, predicting that consumers’ increased use of online shopping is a trend that is here to stay.

Chief executive officer Andrew Goodacre said independent shops have already had to show great resilience and flair, utilising online deliveries to stay in business.

He said: “However, we are also seeing many more previously successful businesses closed down and fighting for survival.

“It is good to see the government initiatives that have been taken but we are concerned that the support is not reaching the retailer quick enough.”

Though there is no fixed date for when the lockdown will end and social distancing rules relaxed, Mr Goodacre said habits have already been formed and internet sales will continue to trump the High Street.

The East Riding also saw 45% less footfall at groceries and pharmacies, and 61% less in parks and green spaces.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said using anonymous data like this from Google “will help improve our understanding of the impact social distancing measures are having”.