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Google tracks movements around Suffolk during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 05:35 04 May 2020

Suffolk parks have been busier in sunnier weather but not as busy as we would expect at this time of yearPicture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk parks have been busier in sunnier weather but not as busy as we would expect at this time of yearPicture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

The sunniest April ever brought Suffolk families out to the park but most people are still staying at home, according to data from Google.

The data showed that the unseasonally warm weather in April tempted people back to parks after they initially stayed away when lockdown was imposed but visits were still below normal levels most of the time.

The trend was also spotted by Ipswich Borough Council (IBC).

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A council spokesman said: “We have noticed some more people visiting our parks for their daily exercise, especially in the sunnier weather, and we want to thank the vast majority for continuing to follow instructions on social distancing.

“We do urge people to keep on with this as looking after ourselves and others is helping to protect the NHS and to save lives. Where necessary, our parks teams have asked people to move on if they are not following the guidelines.”

While quite a few people have been going to parks, not so many have been shopping.

Across Suffolk Google data shows that around 70-80% fewer people went to shops that were not food shops or pharmacies than normally would.

This can also be seen in IBC numbers from April. The council counts the footfall in Ipswich town centre on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

There are now only around a quarter of the people that there were in the town centre on a given day prior to lockdown.

Google’s data also shows that people visiting public transport stations was around half what it normally is, but it ticked up slightly towards the end of the month.

According to the AA there has also been a steady increase in traffic on the roads. Earlier in the lockdown there was a 40% reduction in breakdowns. But more recently there has been a steady increase in breakdown calls.

Many of these breakdown calls are for cars with flat batteries because they have not been used for a long time.

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Edmund King, AA president, said: “Most drivers are still following Government advice to only make essential journeys by car, however, we have seen traffic and breakdowns starting to creep back up.

“It is a worry that some drivers seem to have got bored being locked up at home and are now venturing out in their cars.

“It is important to cut out non-essential travel as one crash can tie up the emergency services for hours and may also result in a precious NHS hospital bed being taken. The message is still to stay home and help to save lives. We also urge drivers to stick to the speed limits as a minority of drivers have been treating the roads as race tracks.”

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