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These are the numbers that defined Kent in lockdown, as we reach three months since it began

Three months ago Kent went into lockdown along with the rest of the UK, collectively adapting as we all did our bit to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

With so much changing over the past quarter of a year, it can be easy to forget everything that has happened - not to mention what we have had to overcome.

Find out the stories behind the numbers that defined lockdown in Kent
Find out the stories behind the numbers that defined lockdown in Kent

To throw the reality of the pandemic for the county into stark light, we decided to do some fact-finding and reveal some of the key statistics and figures that have been borne out of this strange and difficult time.

From clapping for our carers to registering births, opportunistic scammers and furloughing, these numbers show the reality of how much the pandemic changed the way we all live our lives.

Shoppers have spent on average £27.41 per shopping trip
Shoppers have spent on average £27.41 per shopping trip

Supermarkets saw their fastest sales jump in 26 years since the pandemic started.

Before the lockdown began, shoppers were met with snaking queues and bare shelves, as panic set in to purchase as many products as possible.

Although the stockpiling of pasta, toilet roll and bread calmed down once the county settled in to the situation, the figures reveal how much the pandemic has changed our shopping habits.

According to Kantar, a company specialising in data, on average we are spending £27.41 on each shopping trip, an increase of 50%.

But we have been making on average 3.5 trips a week to the supermarket since lockdown began, which accounts for 100 million fewer trips nationwide.

Nearly a third of Kent's workforce were furloughed
Nearly a third of Kent's workforce were furloughed

Nearly a third of the county's workforce had their wages met by the taxpayer under the government's furlough scheme.

Medway has the highest number of employees supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) with 30,700.

But Gravesham and Thanet have the largest proportions of workers receiving salary support, at 39% and 36% respectively.

The scheme was introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on March 23 and means the Government pays 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month.

A total of 201,300 people across Kent and Medway, from a workforce of 702,100 (29%), have been furloughed.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the nation signed up to volunteer with the NHS
Hundreds of thousands of people across the nation signed up to volunteer with the NHS

More than three quarters of a million people signed up as volunteers to help the NHS in March, with thousands of those in Kent.

The staggering figure followed the government's call to arms to help the health service cope under the weight of thousands of coronavirus patients needing medical support in our hospitals.

Signing up over just four days, the NHS volunteer responders' roles included delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving patients to appointments, bringing them home from hospital, making regular check-up phone calls and transporting medical supplies and equipment for the NHS.

In the daily briefing on March 25, Boris Johnson said: "We hoped to get 250,000 volunteers, but I can tell you in just 24 hours 405,000 people have responded to the call."

The figure goes to show how many people were committed to being part of tackling the virus and saving thousands of lives across the country.

Hundreds of newborn babies have still not been registered
Hundreds of newborn babies have still not been registered

Thousands of parents across Kent were left waiting to register the birth of their newborn baby, as the effects of the pandemic caused a huge backlog in the registration process.

The service, run by Kent County Council (KCC), had been put on hold over the last three months, with 3,500 registrations still outstanding.

KCC's head of registration, James Pearson, said the local authority had made plans to reduce a significant birth registration "backlog" in the next four to six weeks.

Baby Leo Bateman became one of the first to be registered since lockdown began, being born on April 19 at Darent Valley Hospital in Gravesham.

Leo's parents Katie and James had to wait nearly two months after he was born to be able to register his birth.

Police have issued fines for flouting lockdown, but some were handed out in error
Police have issued fines for flouting lockdown, but some were handed out in error

As the pandemic forced the county into lockdown, police forces were given the powers to fine and detain people for breaching the government guidelines.

Legitimate grounds for Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) included driving with non-household members, house parties, large gatherings of people from different households and camping.

As of June 8, 117 fines had been recorded by Kent Police for people flouting the rules, a revised figure after it was revealed a number of the notices had been issued incorrectly by officers.

The withdrawn fines came at a time when government advisor Dominic Cummings was being widely criticised for breaking lockdown rules.

Across England, a total of 15,715 FPNs were recorded by forces up to June 8, with 2,282 issued in Wales for the same timeframe.

A couple taking part in the weekly applause in Gravesend. Photo: Estelle Thompson Photography
A couple taking part in the weekly applause in Gravesend. Photo: Estelle Thompson Photography

What started as a one-off event to clap for our carers became a regular activity for 10 weeks, as people across Kent and the country showed their appreciation for key workers.

A nationwide appeal to clap for our NHS staff and care workers was launched at the end of March, as households across Kent stood by their doors, windows and in their front gardens to thank those working tirelessly through the pandemic.

The tributes took place every Wednesday at 8pm, striking up a brilliant din throughout the county.

Over the weeks residents got creative with their tributes, with honking trains, wolves howling and even pipers performing on Sheppey.

Once it got to the 10th week, the organiser of Clap for our Carers, Annemarie Plas, suggested it should be the last one, and so Kent residents took part one final time on May 28.

Scammers used the pandemic to prey on people
Scammers used the pandemic to prey on people

Scammers capitalised on the pandemic and preyed on unsuspecting victims, using the unprecedented situation as a way of cooking up new schemes.

Since the nation went into lockdown in March, at least 130,000 unsafe masks were seized at Kent's ports, including Dover and Thanet.

KCC's Trading Standards received more than 1,000 Covid-19 scam referrals in April and May, while it was estimated at least 270 people in Kent had fallen victim to crimes such as price "gouging" and doorstepping.

Other crimes carried out included email and text message scams, telling residents they had broken lockdown rules.

Some doorstepping criminals had also offered to disinfect driveways in exchange for money.

The Marsh family delighted people across the world with their musical cover
The Marsh family delighted people across the world with their musical cover

With so much tough news to swallow, one family from Faversham attempted to lift the nation's spirits and ended up going viral in the process, with their lockdown edition of One Day More.

The Marsh family's Les Misérables cover has been shared by more than 411,000 people on Facebook, as well as being commented on more than 72,000 times.

Following their online success, the family appeared on ITV's This Morning and an emotional Holly Willoughby was brought to tears after watching their video.

Dad Dr Ben Marsh said: "There have been messages from people who are self-isolating, or even people with cancer on hospital wards, saying it has made them smile or cry.

"We really weren't expecting it and we are really touched by the way it has resonated with people."

Kent's tourism industry could be in grave trouble
Kent's tourism industry could be in grave trouble

Around 65 million people visit Kent every year, contributing nearly £4 billion to the local economy.

But as the pandemic continues to directly affect businesses in the tourism industry, it is feared the cost to Kent's economy could be around £3.2bn.

For now, over 90% of Kent's tourism businesses remain shut, including pubs and hotels, as the industry enters its peak season.

Thanet's Dreamland theme park was one of the businesses struck hardest by the pandemic, as it was forced to lay off 52 staff due to the drastic reduction in revenue.

Speaking to KentOnline in May, Visit Kent's chief executive officer, Deirdre Wells, said: "As many businesses will need to operate with far less capacity, due to social distancing restrictions, there will clearly be an impact on revenue."

The infection rate in Ashford remains the second highest in the country
The infection rate in Ashford remains the second highest in the country

As coronavirus spread across the county, it became clear some areas were more affected than others.

The up-to-date figures as of Sunday, June 21, show Tunbridge Wells had reported 271 total cases, with a relatively low infection rate of 229.6 cases per 100,000.

But Ashford is a different story, which is second only to Barrow-in-Furness for the worst infection rate in the country.

Latest figures indicate at least 898 people in Ashford's district have been hit with the virus at a rate of 694.6 per 100,000.

Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con), deputy leader of Ashford Borough Council, cited high levels of testing as the answer to why the area has so many cases.

The number of people in Kent who have sadly died from coronavirus
The number of people in Kent who have sadly died from coronavirus

Hundreds of people in Kent have sadly lost their lives to coronavirus.

The stark figure of 1,364 lives lost is a reminder of how tragic this pandemic has been, and how many friends and families have been affected.

Among those are nurses, grandparents and people at the heart of communities across the county.

  • To visit our Covid-19 remembrance page, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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