Coronavirus tracked: Why it might not matter if the government ends lockdown

Data suggests travel, socialising and other pre-lockdown habits could be impacted long after containment measures end

Anthony Cuthbertson
Friday 15 May 2020 21:28 BST
All you need to know from the latest UK coronavirus briefing

Mobility data from Apple has revealed that the coronavirus outbreak was already having a significant impact on people's behaviour long before the government imposed lockdown restrictions.

In the weeks before the UK entered lockdown on 23 March, companies began to introduce measures like working from home in order to help contain the spread of the virus.

This trend, combined with people's own changing attitudes toward social events and large gatherings, resulted in travel dropping by more than 50 per cent before the lockdown began, according to requests made on Apple Maps for car and public transport directions.

Requests on Apple Maps for car directions began to fall on 11 March, while requests for public transport directions began to fall even earlier on 9 March.

Many activities and behaviours that were considered normal before coronavirus also remain taboo regardless of the government's guidelines.

The recently relaxed rules mean that cleaners and nannies are now permitted to visit people's homes, but a recent survey found that the majority of people found this "very unacceptable".

The poll by Ipsos MORI, which was carried out between 8 and 11 May, also found that having non co-habiting friends, family members or loved ones visit was also considered socially unacceptable.​

Public opinion about exercise and driving is more greatly divided, ​though the poll demonstrated that government rules may not be a defining influence on people's behaviours.

Companies' decisions to keep work from home policies in place show that lockdown measures are not necessarily enforced by government policy decision.

The figures also suggest that the impact of coronavirus on travel habits, socialising and other pre-lockdown habits could continue long after lockdown officially ends.

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