In Brief

Data shows UK lagging behind in social distancing

British cities distancing less than many in Europe and the US prior to wider lockdown

The UK is lagging behind other countries in adopting social distancing measures, according to data collected from several tracking apps.

Amid concern over images of crowded public spaces circulating on social media, peak London congestion was down two-thirds yesterday morning compared with a typical rush-hour, according to the satnav firm TomTom. 

The Guardian reports that in Milan, where a lockdown has been in place since 9 March, peak congestion fell by almost 90%.

Meanwhile, transport app Citymapper found that London, Birmingham and Manchester have all registered significant drops in public transport use, down to 23%, 25% and 26% of normal use respectively.

However, the British cities are all in the bottom quarter of the index of 41 areas analysed by the app, with 13 places around the globe, including Milan, Barcelona, New York and the whole of the Netherlands, falling to single-digit percentages. 

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According to The Guardian, tube travel in London has fallen 81% compared to a normal day and bus travel is down 69%. 

Figures from NordVPN show that the use of business virtual private networks has risen 48% in the UK since 11 March, suggesting that people are working from home and connecting remotely to a corporate network.

The data was published as Boris Johnson last night announced a tougher lockdown to fight the spread of coronavirus. The move followed images of the British public flouting government advice to stay two metres apart over the weekend.

With so many Brits ignoring guidance on social distancing, demands for tougher measures had been growing, with the Daily Mail reporting that the prime minister was facing a “cabinet revolt” if he did not introduce stronger measures.

“There are lots of reasons why people may choose not to comply with voluntary social distancing,” says Wired.

“People may be worried about their job security, their ability to pay the rent or to support relatives close to them. Unless the government solves those problems, people just won’t be able to distance themselves.”

As of Monday evening, a total of 336 people had died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus - an increase of 55 since the previous day.

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