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Empty Liverpool Street Station during London lockdown
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Londoners are moving around more despite social distancing guidelines

By
Alexandra Sims
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We’ve spring-cleaned our flats twice over, baked infinite supplies of banana bread and watched every play in the National Theatre back catalogue, and as we enter the sixth week of lockdown, it seems Londoners who have been cooped up at home are beginning to get a little restless. 

Tech giant Apple has released a mobility report to help governments and health officials understand how people across the nation are moving around during lockdown. The Apple Maps Mobility Trend Reports share data associated with users’ requests for directions in Apple Maps to show the change in the number of people walking, driving and using public transport by region. After weeks of lockdown, the report suggests Londoners have been moving about more in the last fortnight despite social-distancing rules staying in place.

The report works by showing the daily volume of Apple Map requests per region compared to a baseline volume on January 13. While Londoners’ overall movements have reduced considerably since the lockdown measures were put in place, with driving-related searches down 65 percent and walking-related searches down 68 percent, the data also shows an uplift in the number of people conducting similar searches since mid-April. 

Apple Mobility Trend Report
Photograph: Apple Mobility Trend Reports

On April 12 walking and driving were both down 77 percent compared to January 13. However, nearly two weeks later on April 25 walking was down by 68 percent and driving by 65 percent. Use of public transport has reduced by 86 percent and has remained steady. 

Despite signs that Londoners have been more mobile recently, the Apple data echoes a mobility report previously released by Google showing that Londoners are obeying the new social-distancing rules better than other parts of the country. For example, the graphs below created from the Apple data, show that walking and driving has been consistently lower in London than the UK average since lockdown restrictions were imposed. 

Apple data
Photograph: Alexandra Sims
apple data
Photograph: Alexandra Sims

This information comes as the prime minister made his first statement outside Downing Street today (Monday April 27) since being taken into hospital, in which he said there are ‘real signs now that we are passing through the peak’ of the virus. Boris Johnson added that this was also a ‘moment of maximum risk’ and that the ‘tough’ restrictions cannot be lifted yet as it might ‘throw away all the effort and sacrifice of the British people’ and risk a second peak of infections.

Let’s try and keep it up, London!  There’s no shame in becoming a lockdown cliché

Read up on all the new rules on exercising and moving around in London. 

Find out how to help (or get help) in the capital during lockdown. 

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