This is how South Tyneside families have been reacting to the UK's coronavirus lockdown - as told by Google data

South Tyneside residents have continued to successfully shun most shops under lockdown, Google data shows – but are still lingering in groceries and pharmacies.

By Patrick Jack
Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 4:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 12:11 am

The latest weekly Google report 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 personal devices to track trends in people's movement in the home, retail and recreation establishments, 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 Tyne and Wear has seen the biggest drop-off in activity across the five non-residential categories – 80% below normal levels.

However, this is a smaller drop than the UK average, with footfall down 81%.

But when it comes to grocery stores and pharmacies, footfall in Tyne and Wear as a whole has now only fallen by 30%.

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That was the second consecutive increase in the use of grocery stores and pharmacies in the area – the previous week it stood at 41% below usual levels, following an initial drop of 47%.

Google data has revealed how residents have reacted to the lockdown in terms of their shopping habits.

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

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 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" and urged UK citizens to be patient a while longer.

Tyne and Wear has also seen a 32% drop in footfall in parks and green spaces, but with people allowed out to exercise once a day, the Communities Secretary urged local authorities not to close any more parks.

Speaking at a daily press conference from Number 10, Robert 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."

The full results for Tyne and Wear are:

Trips to retail and recreation establishments had been 81% below normal, but have since increased to 80%

Footfall in grocery stores and pharmacies had been 41% below normal, but have since increased to 30%

Workplaces had seen a 55% drop, and have since further decreased to 59%

Visits to parks and green spaces had been 37% below average, and are now 32% below

Visits to public transport stations had been 68% below average, but have since increased to 66%

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