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World map showing change in public footfall, March-April 2020
Image: Time Out

New tracking data shows the countries and cities where lockdown is starting to lift

The latest Google mobility data shows how people’s movements have changed in 133 countries

James Manning
Written by
James Manning

Last month, tracking data from Google revealed how closely countries and cities were sticking to the social-distancing measures being implemented by governments worldwide. Now an update to the data has been released, giving us a picture of the countries and cities where lockdown is finally being eased.

Google’s mobility data reveals footfall in public places such as shops, places of recreation, parks, public transport stations and other workplaces. Its first wave of data compared people’s movement before and after lockdown measures, showing that cities like LondonNew York and Paris were up to 80 percent less busy than usual in the week leading up to March 29.

Now Google has released equivalent numbers for the days leading up to April 26 – and they show that in many places, normal life is starting to return. Here’s what we’ve learned from the latest figures.

In dozens of countries, public places are getting busier again.

Of the 133 countries analysed by Google, 74 saw footfall in public places increase from late March to late April.

The biggest rebounds were in Europe. Many countries have relaxed restrictions in the past two weeks, and both Poland and Germany were more than 50 percent busier on April 26 than on March 29. In the Netherlands, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, public places were around a third busier in late April compared to late March.

In other countries, strict measures have remained in place until this week. Increases here smaller but still present. Footfall went up by around 6 percent in ItalySpain and Australia. France’s increase was slightly higher, at around 11 percent. In the UK, public places were 15 percent busier in late April than in late March, despite no formal relaxation of lockdown rules. In London, this figure was 20 percent.

In Hong Kong, where total lockdown has been avoided and many bars and other venues are soon to reopen, footfall in public places was up 13 percent since late March.

US states are taking different paths through lockdown.

Debate rages in the USA about how and when to lift restrictions in individual states – but the Google data reveals that some places are already returning to normal.

Public places in Wisconsin, Idaho, Minnesota and Iowa have become more than a third busier since late March. Illinois is 28 percent busier, even as other states such as Kentucky and Ohio have seen hefty decreases in public footfall.

Other states, such as New York, Florida and California, remain more or less unchanged over the past month.

In other countries, stay-at-home regulations have got stricter since March.

The data reveals the countries where lockdown measures have intensified the most in the last month. Zimbabwe and Botswana top that list: footfall is down by almost half, with restrictions having been extended in both African countries.

In Singapore, increased measures were prompted by a resurgence in cases in April, sending public footfall down by 40 percent according to the data.

Browse our world map to see the change in public footfall in 133 countries:

Google put together its mobility report by tracking users’ movements through the Location History function in its services and apps – so if you’re a Google user, there’s a good chance you contributed to this report. If you’d rather the tech giant didn’t follow you while using its products, you can choose to turn location tracking on or off at any time from your Google Account and can delete past data from your timeline.

And if your country is one of the many still observing safety restrictions, then check out our list of 101 actually fun things to do while you’re stuck at home. Stay safe!

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