York city centre records the quietest day since records began

Stonegate during the lockdown. Photograph: YorkMix

York city centre is quieter than it has ever been in the past 10 years – according to data.

Footfall counters installed on the usually busy streets have revealed the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on the heart of the city.

They show that Sunday March 29 was the quietest day recorded by any of the footfall counters since records began in 2009 – with a total of 630 people recorded walking past the counter on Micklegate, 1,221 on Parliament Street and 1,527 on Coney Street.

That is the lowest number of people counted on any of those streets on any day in the past 10 years.

On the same day in 2019, more than 29,000 people were counted on Coney Street.

More people on Christmas Day

College Street

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country on lockdown on March 23, City of York Council told tourists to stay away from the city.

York usually welcomes about 8.2m visitors a year.

The footfall data shows that even Christmas Day saw more visitors to city centre streets on some years, compared to the figures over the past three weeks.

Research by Google – which tracks people’s phone location history to provide insights into the public response to government policies aimed at combating COVID-19 – reveals there has been an 86 per cent reduction in people visiting retail and leisure sites like restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, museums and cinemas – which is not surprising given that the government ordered these businesses to temporarily close on March 20.

The tech giant also revealed that more people in York are staying at home during the outbreak than elsewhere in the UK.

Google’s data analysed people’s movement from March 21, when the first restrictive measures were put in place, up until April 11.

New system

Council leader, Cllr Keith Aspden, said: “We know it’s difficult to follow these guidelines, especially when the weather is improving, therefore I’d like to once again thank everyone for staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives by stopping the spread of coronavirus in York.”

Last month the council agreed to look at getting a new system to track footfall – using GPS tracking and credit card data to learn more about how people use the city centre.

The measures could see anonymised data collected from anyone visiting the city centre to find out where they come from, how much money they spend, where they go and what they think about York.