Council uses phone data to find out if Tier 3 travellers were responsible for spike in York coronavirus cases

The council is using location data to find out how many people travelled to York from areas in higher coronavirus tiers – and if visitors could be linked to the huge rise in cases in the city.

York’s covid rate more than quadrupled in the fortnight between December 15 and 29.

Anonymised phone and credit card data will now be used to find out where people visiting the city came from.

Residents raised concerns with the council about people visiting York from areas with stricter restrictions and higher infection rates.

Public health director Sharon Stoltz told a York outbreak board meeting: “We are pulling together the mobility data of how people have travelled across York compared to the first and second lockdowns and we’re also working with partners to gather intelligence around where people visiting York were from.

“We will then be sharing that information with the Local Government Association and we’ll also be sharing it with the Local Resilience Forum, which we hope will help inform discussions in government about any future tier system and some of the challenges when you have neighbouring areas in different tiers, allowing movement of people, and the impact that has on the spread of the virus.”

Police issued 154 coronavirus fines between December 2 and January 5 – 115 to visitors who came to York to visit pubs, bars and restaurants in groups.

The public health team has also suggested the increase in cases could also be down to York residents mixing; York being under less restrictive tier 2 rather than tier 3 restrictions in December; and the more transmissible new strain of the virus.