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Google data shows county residents spending more time in parks

By David Banner | Telford | Coronavirus | Published:

There have been complaints from across the county as beauty spots have been besieged with visitors since the government relaxed lockdown rules, and figures from Google back up what people have been seeing.

People have been spending more time in the county's parks

The data from the internet search giant, for the week to May 21, covers the second week after lockdown restrictions started to be eased in England.

The company 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, workplaces, and parks and green spaces.

The weekly report shows an increase in activity within Shropshire's parks during the week to May 21, compared to the week before – suggesting people are hanging out in public green spaces more regularly, or for longer periods of time.

Over the seven days, time spent in parks was 32 per cent higher than during a five-week baseline period at the start of the year.

The week before, it had been four per cent lower than usual levels.

In the first report, which covered the week to March 29 when the lockdown came into effect, park activity was down 27 per cent.

For Powys, which is still under Wales' stricter lockdown rules, the number is also rising. Over the most recent seven days, time spent in parks was 12 per cent lower than during a five-week baseline period at the start of the year.

The week before, it had been 22 per cent lower than usual levels.

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Despite the concern in the county the data suggests that the population in Shropshire is staying away from green spaces more successfully than in other locations across the UK.

Nationally, people were spending 37 per cent more time than usual in parks last week.

According to the figures the impact of the virus is still limiting the number of people out and about.

Thy show that in Shropshire visits to public transport hubs were 38 per cent down, shopping centres and food outlets saw 65 per cent less traffic, workplaces were 49 per cent quieter than usual, food shops and pharmacies saw 20 per cent less traffic, and people spent 18 per cent more time at home than usual.

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The seven days to May 21 covered the second week after Boris Johnson announced a partial easing of the lockdown in England on Sunday, May 10, when the new 'Stay Alert' slogan was unveiled.

Rules on once-a-day exercise were relaxed, to allow people to spend unlimited time outdoors, while people were permitted to meet one person from another household.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have since followed suit to relax restrictions, with lockdown rules now diverging across the four nations.

But high-risk people who have spent more than two months shielding from coronavirus say they feel “left behind and forgotten about”, after being told their isolation may continue for “several more months”.

Charities supporting the more than two million people currently shielding from Covid-19 said Boris Johnson’s announcement has made the most vulnerable “deeply concerned” about the impact an extended period at home will have on their mental and physical health.

The Prime Minister was unable to give a timeframe on when lockdown measures for vulnerable people would be lifted.

And they were dealt a further blow on Friday when Environment Secretary George Eustice warned that those shielding from the coronavirus may have to continue to do so “for several more months”.

Steven McIntosh, Macmillan Cancer Support policy director, said the latest announcement was “incredibly bleak and distressing” for those in the high-risk category.

He said: “It’s simply not acceptable that they just get a message that they are going to have to continue to do this for some time longer, they need to understand what that means and what support is available.

“Macmillan is hearing from people who feel left behind and forgotten, who got a letter at the start of March telling them to stay in total lockdown, not to leave the house, not to see anyone, to protect themselves.

“They feel there has been a huge lack of communication to help them understand what lockdown means for them.”

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