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18 May 2020updated 04 Sep 2021 12:29pm

UK cities are awakening as lockdown is eased

By Nicu Calcea

Walking and driving in the UK surged on Saturday, 16 May – the first weekend day since the government eased lockdown restrictions, new data show.

The new rules, combined with warm spring weather, saw movement rates rise to 60 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels on Saturday, 16 May. That compares to nearer 30 per cent towards the end of March.

Numbers have been edging up in recent weeks, with the Bank Holiday weekend between 8 May and 10 May showing an increase in walking in particular, ahead of the lockdown restrictions being partially lifted. 

Since Wednesday 13 May, people have been allowed unlimited exercise and can drive to other destinations in England such as beaches or parks. Data from Apple Maps show easing the restrictions had a clear and immediate effect.

The chart below shows how many requests for directions were made in the UK each day up to 16 May. Data for 11 and 12 May are not available.

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Public transport activity has registered only a slight increase and is now at around 20 per cent of pre-coronavirus levels.

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UK drivers made 25 per cent more requests for driving directions from Wednesday to Saturday last week compared to the week before, and 70 per cent more than the same days during the week lockdown started.