People in UK reluctant to travel despite lockdown easing – study

A cyclist on Waterloo Bridge in London, which may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements wid
A cyclist on Waterloo Bridge in London, which may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened so people can safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces as coronavirus restriction slowly begin to ease.

People in the UK are still travelling less than 50% of their pre-pandemic distance despite lockdown restrictions easing, according to new figures.

Movement is only increasing by around 2-3% each week, University of Oxford data shows.

After sinking to a 98% reduction compared with pre-lockdown levels in mid-April, as of June 22 travelling had increased to around 45%.

The Government dropped its “stay home” slogan on May 10.

One of the researchers involved in the study of movement, Dr Matthias Qian, said: “We explain the slow and steady increase in mobility with the lockdown fatigue of the population while destination choices are limited.

“The key driver of population movement is the daily commute to work, and these commutes remain muted as many offices have yet to reopen.”

The highest levels of movement since the crisis began coincided with the hottest day of the year so far on June 25.

The North East recorded movement of nearly 70% of pre-lockdown levels, while the South West was at 60%, Wales at 45%, Scotland at 43% and London at 36%.

The Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor uses mobile phone data from across the UK and is based on distances travelled.

Researcher Dr Adam Saunders said: “What appears to be happening is that more people have started to move further but only around the area in which they live. Travel beyond these home areas is more limited.

“So people have an inherent need to get out and about but they are keeping those activities relatively local in comparison to pre-lockdown movement patterns.”

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