WORKPLACES in Dorset were increasingly deserted towards the end of October as the second wave of Covid-19 took hold across the UK, new figures from Google suggest.

The Institute of Directors warns recent restrictions to limit the spread of the virus mean many UK businesses will remain vulnerable without more help.

Google uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in different areas of their daily lives, including where they work.

Workplace activity in Dorset in the working week to October 30 was 41 per cent lower than during a five-week baseline period at the start of the year, the latest report shows.

This was down from 30 per cent below normal in the five days to October 23, and the lowest figure for any working week during the month.

Movement in workplaces across the UK was 44 per cent below normal in the most recent week's data – down from 35 per cent the previous week.

It was also the third drop in a row, from 33 per cent down in the week to October 9 – the closest it has been to normal since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict lockdown on March 23.

People were advised to work from home wherever possible in October as the pandemic began to grip the UK once more.

As cases continued to rise, Boris Johnson introduced a three-tiered system of local Covid-19 alerts levels to be imposed depending of the prevalence of the virus, which came into force on October 14.

Tej Parikh, the Institute of Directors’ chief economist, said recent restrictions across the UK had already dampened consumer spending and hit firms’ supply chains.

He added: “Many businesses are still carrying wounds from the first lockdown and remain vulnerable to harsher measures, particularly without further government support.

“The challenging conditions for firms will also leave some workers anxious about what may lie ahead in the winter months, with many households likely to try building up precautionary savings."

After announcing a second full lockdown in England to begin on November 5, the Government extended its job support scheme so furloughed employees will get 80 per cent of their wage for hours not worked, capped at £2,500.

It had been due to end on October 31 but will now run throughout November.