Revealed: Google data tracks where Suffolk spent lockdown and Christmas

A police presence has been visible in Ipswich town centre in January

Google tracking data shows Suffolk's movements during the November lockdown, Tier 4 and over Christmas. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

New Google tracking data has shown the movements of people in Suffolk over the Christmas period and during Tier 4 restrictions, as well as the impact of the November lockdown. 

Since the pandemic began, 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 the lockdown rules.

The location 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.

What were Suffolk's movements like during the November lockdown?

During the first days of the second national lockdown - which was introduced on Thursday, November 5, and finished on Wednesday, December 2 - visits to Suffolk's parks rose, while trips to the workplace, supermarkets, retail and recreation and use of public transport all declined. 

People in Suffolk were forced to spend more time at home during the November lockdown, with a 16% increase compared with normal levels following a move by many offices asking employees to stay home.

Meanwhile, visits to parks soared by 28% on the first weekend of the strict restrictions - an increase which was broadly in line with the national average.

Messages to Stay Home are being displayed at bus stops around Ipswich.

Messages to Stay Home are being displayed at bus stops around Ipswich. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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How Suffolk's movements changed from Tier 2 to Tier 4

When the lockdown came to an end at the beginning of December, Suffolk was initially put under Tier 2 restrictions, permitting the 'rule of six' outdoors and restaurants were allowed to reopen when offering a substantial meal. 

From this date, visits to supermarkets and pharmacies began to creep upwards in Suffolk, along with retail and recreation visits, and trips to the workplace - although all areas still remained below normal levels. 

While living under Tier 2 rules, public transport use in Suffolk was higher than the national average, and so were retail and recreation visits. However, the other trends remained in like with the UK average. 

Did people stay home around Christmas?

In the days before Christmas, trips to supermarkets rose above normal levels as families headed out to get their important food shops for the big day, with a 33% increase on December 24. 

On Christmas Day itself, there was a 25% rise of people staying home, with all other areas dropping significantly while families enjoyed quality time with loved ones while three households were allowed to mix indoors. 

Suffolk was then placed under the toughest Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day, meaning movements across the county changed once more. 

Visits to parks soared from -41% on Boxing Day to 42% on the bank holiday Monday, December 28 - as non-essential shops and restaurants were forced to shut their doors again and people spent more time outside meeting with others. 

The bank holidays and annual leave will also have played a part in these trends, which showed that more people began to stay home, with an increase of 28% on December 28. 

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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