Update, May 2020: The latest data shows the countries and cities where lockdown is starting to lift.
In three months, the way we live has changed almost beyond recognition. Billions of people across the world are social distancing or sheltering in place. And now new tracking data from Google has revealed the places where people are facing the strictest curbs on their movement – and those where the global lockdown has yet to take effect.
The data, which covers 131 countries, shows footfall to places like retail and recreation venues, grocery and pharmaceutical shops, parks, public transport stations and other workplaces. In Bolivia, where a far-reaching lockdown was imposed on March 22, the number of people visiting such public places has fallen by 88 percent – the highest in the world.
Italy, one of the main centres of the infection, has experienced a drop in footfall of 84 percent. Spain and France follow close behind with 82 percent and 77 percent drops respectively, with the island nations of Mauritius and Aruba also showing high drop-offs in people going out.
The data gives us an insight into which major world cities have shut down, too. In Europe, the Veneto region around Venice is 87 percent less busy than usual. The Spanish provinces housing Madrid and Barcelona have 82 percent less activity, while Paris’s Île-de-France region has experienced an 80 percent drop in people leaving their homes. Lisbon and Porto in Portugal are not far behind, with a 72 percent reduction in business as usual, while London is around two thirds less busy than before.
It’s also apparent that the USA and Canada have lower levels of lockdown than Europe (so far, at least). Quebec, the area around Montreal, is the most affected place in North America: traffic there is 60 percent down on its usual levels. In the US, Massachusetts and New York states are less than half as busy as normal. Many states have much smaller drop-offs in activity.
Meanwhile in Asia, where limits on movement are mostly not as strict as in Europe, Tokyo’s foot traffic is just over half its usual level. Hong Kong is a third less busy than usual and Singapore has only experienced a 20 percent drop in people going out. Sri Lanka, Nepal and Malaysia are the most restricted Asian countries at the moment.
Meanwhile in Australia, the state of Victoria (which includes Melbourne) is more affected than New South Wales, the state around Sydney. Victoria has 47 percent less foot traffic than usual, compared to NSW’s 35 percent.
Finally, the data reveals the places in the world where life apparently continues as normal. People are still going out at least as much as usual in the US states of Nebraska and the Dakotas, the Japanese provinces of Shimane and Yamaguchi, the Eastern European nation of Belarus (where the president has suggested citizens boost their immunity with vodka and saunas) – and, notably, South Korea, an early centre of the epidemic.
Data for Google’s Community Mobility Reports was sourced from anonymised users of its Location History function. (If you’re a Google user, you may have it enabled – you can choose to turn it on or off at any time from your Google Account and can delete location history data from your timeline.) The information was collected around March 29, so some places may have changed since then: Tokyo, for instance, declared a state of emergency two days ago.
Google has also promised to add further updates and more countries, regions and languages as time goes on. For now, this is a fascinating snapshot of a world that’s increasingly choosing to lay low at home. Keep safe, people!
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