Calderdale residents returning to parks despite lockdown, data reveals

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People in Calderdale and across West Yorkshire have been tempted back into parks despite the continuing lockdown, data from Google suggests – ​but visits are still below normal levels.

With national figures showing a similar rise in park visits, First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, acting in place of Boris Johnson, urged the nation to continue to follow government advice on social distancing.

In the second report of its kind, Google used location data to chart trends in people's movement in the home, retail and recreation establishments, grocery stores and pharmacies, public transport hubs, and parks and green spaces.

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Calderdale residents returning to parks despite lockdown, data revealsCalderdale residents returning to parks despite lockdown, data reveals
Calderdale residents returning to parks despite lockdown, data reveals

In West Yorkshire, footfall increased in all five of the categories outside of the home in the six weeks to April 5 compared to the six weeks to March 29.

Both reports used the five-week period between January 3 and February 6 as a baseline to compare people’s movements against.

The biggest change was in parks and natural spaces, with politicians and police urging the public to only use outdoor spaces for exercise and not sunbathing or meeting friends.

Google's figures previously showed footfall had fallen by 49%, but the latest data shows visits are now ​only down 23% compared to usual.

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Speaking after the publication of the second Google report, Dominic Raab said everyone who stayed home had helped protect the NHS and save lives, but that "we must keep going".

He added that the measures will have to stay in place until we have moved beyond the peak of cases, as it was too early to say conclusively if they had worked yet.

He said: "The most important thing right now is that people continue to follow the Government’s guidance until we’ve got the evidence that the virus is firmly under control.

"So that means please do stay at home, to protect our NHS and to save lives. After all the efforts that everyone’s made, after all the sacrifices so many people have made, let’s not ruin it now.

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"Let’s not undo the gains we’ve made. Let’s not waste the sacrifices so many people have made.

"We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people and hurt our country. I know it’s tough going. But this is a team effort, and we’ll only defeat this virus for good if we all stay the course."

Across the UK, the Google data shows an increase in footfall in each category outside the home.

The biggest increase in movement was seen in parks where visits rose from 52% below average to 29%.

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Speaking at another daily press conference, NHS England medical director Stephen Powis their own data analysis shows compliance levels in the public are very high.

He said: "We absolutely need to make sure that we keep the benefits of this going forward and we don’t take our foot off the pedal, we don’t become complacent."

The final weekend of data collection for this report saw good weather across many parts of the UK, with crowds congregating at popular outdoor places – including London's Brockwell Park and Brighton seafront.

The full results for West Yorkshire are:

o Trips to retail and recreation establishments had been 84% below normal, but have since increased to 81%

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o ​Visits to parks and green spaces had been 49% below average, but have since increased to 23%

o Footfall in grocery stores and pharmacies had been 44% below normal, but have since increased to 39%

o Public transport use, which had been 74% below the baseline, has since increased to 68%

o Workplaces had seen a 55% drop, but have since increased to 52%