Latest Google tracking data shows drop in trips to Portsmouth shops - but parks are getting busier

THE people of Portsmouth have continued to successfully shun most shops under lockdown, new Google data shows – but they are still lingering in parks and green spaces.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 2:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 5:53 pm

Latest weekly data from Google shows a second successive rise in shopping visits across the UK, after First Secretary Dominic Raab warned any change to social distancing rules would risk a second peak of the coronavirus.

The tech giant uses location data from phones and other devices to track trends in people's movement at home, retail and recreation spaces, grocery stores and pharmacies, public transport hubs, and parks and green spaces.

The third of its reports, which charts the six weeks up to April 11, shows retail in Portsmouth has seen the biggest drop-off in activity across the five non-residential categories – 86 per cent below normal levels.

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This is a bigger drop than the UK average, with footfall down 81 per cent.

But when it comes to parks and green spaces, footfall in Portsmouth has now only fallen by 19 per cent.

That was compared to 18 per cent below usual levels the previous week, following an initial drop of 46 per cent.

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An empty-looking Commercial Road in Portsmouth after the government announced a lockdown on March 23.

All three reports are compared against a five-week period between January 3 and February 6 to establish a normal baseline.

It comes after the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, urged local authorities not to close parks on Saturday, after some councils shut their gates to deter large groups of people.

Speaking at a daily press conference from Number 10 at the weekend, Mr Jenrick said: ‘While the virus does not discriminate, we know that the lockdown is much harder for people who don’t have a lot of living space, who don’t have a garden, and who don’t have anywhere for their children to run around.

‘That’s why I have made it clear to councils that all parks must remain open.

‘For the health of the nation, people should be able to safely enjoy fresh air and green space.’

Dominic Raab, continuing to stand in for prime minister Boris Johnson, said the UK has not reduced the rate of infection of Covid-19 enough to allow strict social distancing measures to be lifted.

He said: ‘The very clear advice we have received is that any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus.

‘That would threaten a second peak of the virus, and substantially increase the number of deaths. It would undo the progress made to date, and as a result, would require an even longer period of the more restrictive social distancing measures.’

Mr Raab said there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ but right now we are at a ‘delicate and dangerous stage of this pandemic’ as he urged UK citizens to be patient.

The full picture in Portsmouth, according to Google’s data, was as follows:

- Trips to retail and recreation establishments had been 86 per cent below normal and have remained the same

- Footfall in grocery stores and pharmacies had been 40 per cent below normal, but have since increased to 30 per cent

- Workplaces had seen a 54 per cent drop and have since further decreased to 55 per cent

- Visits to parks and green spaces had been 18 per cent below average, and are now 19 per cent below

- Visits to public transport stations had been 67 per cent below average and have remained the same