Residents spending more time in Buckinghamshire's parks last week as Coronavirus lockdown eases

Buckinghamshire's residents were heading to parks more last week, figures from Google suggest.

Monday, 1st June 2020, 9:29 am
Updated Monday, 1st June 2020, 9:30 am
Buckinghamshire's residents were heading to parks more last week, figures from Google suggest

The data, for the week to May 21, covers the second week after lockdown restrictions started to be eased in England.

Google uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in the home, retail and recreation establishments, grocery stores and pharmacies, public transport hubs, workplaces, and parks and green spaces.

The weekly report shows an increase in activity within Buckinghamshire's parks during the week to May 21, compared to the week before – suggesting people are hanging out in public green spaces more regularly, or for longer periods of time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Over the seven days, time spent in parks was 54% higher than during a five-week baseline period at the start of the year.

The week before, it had been 14% higher than usual levels.

In the first report, which covered the week to March 29 when the lockdown came into effect, park activity was down 14%.

The data suggests that the population in Buckinghamshire is staying away from green spaces less successfully than in other locations across the UK. Nationally, people were spending 37% more time than usual in parks last week.

The seven days to May 21 covered the second week after Boris Johnson announced a partial easing of the lockdown in England on Sunday May 10, when the new 'Stay Alert' slogan was unveiled.

Rules on once-a-day exercise were relaxed, to allow people to spend unlimited time outdoors, while people were permitted to meet one person from another household.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have since followed suit to relax restrictions, with lockdown rules now diverging across the four nations.

But high-risk people who have spent more than two months shielding from coronavirus say they feel “left behind and forgotten about”, after being told their isolation may continue for “several more months”.

Charities supporting the more than 2 million people currently shielding from Covid-19 said Boris Johnson’s announcement has made the most vulnerable “deeply concerned” about the impact an extended period at home will have on their mental and physical health.

The Prime Minister was unable to give a timeframe on when lockdown measures for vulnerable people would be lifted.

And they were dealt a further blow on Friday when Environment Secretary George Eustice warned that those shielding from the coronavirus may have to continue to do so “for several more months”.

Steven McIntosh, Macmillan Cancer Support policy director, said the latest announcement was “incredibly bleak and distressing” for those in the high-risk category.

He said: “It’s simply not acceptable that they just get a message that they are going to have to continue to do this for some time longer, they need to understand what that means and what support is available.

“Macmillan is hearing from people who feel left behind and forgotten, who got a letter at the start of March telling them to stay in total lockdown, not to leave the house, not to see anyone, to protect themselves.

“They feel there has been a huge lack of communication to help them understand what lockdown means for them.”

In other locations in Buckinghamshire:

-Visits to public transport hubs were 52% down on usual levels

-Shopping centres and food outlets saw 64% less traffic than normal

-Workplaces were 57% quieter than usual

-Food shops and pharmacies saw 21% less traffic

=People spent 23% more time at home than usual