The spread of coronavirus is accelerating in York – and ‘lockdown restrictions should increase in the city’

A social distancing sticker in York. Photographs: Richard McDougall

York is one of 14 parts of the country where the spread of coronavirus is accelerating and lockdown restrictions should be increased in the city – according to a major study.

The report, by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, says a live monitoring system should be created to check the impact of easing the lockdown in different parts of the country.

If cases increase, it says different areas could tighten lockdown restrictions.

The research says: “There are 14 areas where the spread of the virus appears still to be accelerating, and where mobility could be reduced to try to bring those outbreaks under control.

“Some of these areas are York, Slough and the Isle of Wight.”

It continues: “At a local level, we find that some areas of the country have substantial headroom to increase mobility safely, while a minority need to restrict mobility further to slow the spread of the virus.

“London, Merseyside, the West Midlands and Bristol could all increase mobility by around ten percentage points, but in Slough and York it appears already to be too high to get R [the rate of infection] below 1 locally.”

Highly contagious

King’s Square in York on 13 May

The R – or reproduction number – is a way of rating the virus’ ability to spread. It indicates the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

In North Yorkshire the R is 0.8 according to the latest figures – but the figure for York is not yet available.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said: “The reality is that Covid-19 remains highly contagious and on Tuesday 545 people tragically died; a total of 35,341 deaths in total.

“While we all want to see progress made, it is not right that risk is escalated while infection rates remain so high, and therefore I call for a full risk analysis to be made so we know the risk we are trying to manage, and on the back of this a strategy is put in place so that York is unlocked in the safest way possible and at a timescale that keeps the community, workers and families, safe.”

Location data from Google shows that York is still above average nationally for people staying at home – but that the proportion of people staying at home has fallen since the start of the lockdown.

In April York saw a 33 per cent increase in people staying in residential areas – since May 13 that has fallen to 26 per cent.

The tech giant’s research also shows that there has been a big increase in people returning to the city’s parks – but it has not yet reached normal levels.

Residents are also using transport and visiting grocery stores and other shops more than they were in April, according to the data.