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Norms eased in Lockdown 2.0, but people stayed away from workplaces: Google data

The data shows that of the hotspot states, Delhi has had the most consistent and substantial reductions in movement of people across all categories, while Tamil Nadu saw an increase in mobility across categories (sometimes at a faster pace than the rest of the country) in the first days of the third phase (May 4 to 7).

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi | Updated: May 14, 2020 7:22:37 am
Workers at the canteen of Sudarshan Chemical Industries Ltd office in Roha, Raigarh. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Despite relaxed restrictions in the second phase of the lockdown, from April 20 to May 3, people largely restricted themselves to their homes and stayed away from workplaces, an analysis of Google location data shows.

That changed with Lockdown 3.0, which came into effect on May 4 — data from the early days of the third phase of the lockdown shows that nationwide, workplace movement increased by eight percentage points from averages in the second phase. But it was still at roughly half the pre-pandemic levels.

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Trends from Google’s latest Community Mobility Reports, using location data from its products up until May 7, show that six states (Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu), which have a high case count and/or fast growth in cases, had a much slower return to the workplace than the entire country, with Maharashtra’s activity even dipping between May 4 and 7.

These states have only seen a three-percentage-point increase in workplace activity — they are now at 40 per cent of their pre-pandemic levels.

The data shows that of the hotspot states, Delhi has had the most consistent and substantial reductions in movement of people across all categories, while Tamil Nadu saw an increase in mobility across categories (sometimes at a faster pace than the rest of the country) in the first days of the third phase (May 4 to 7).

The report compares current location trends to a baseline from January 3 to February 6, taking the median value for the corresponding day of the week. The first phase of lockdown was March 24 to April 13, while the second one was April 14 to May 3. The third phase ends on May 17.

The mobility data shows that in the second lockdown, retail footfall declined nationwide by an average of seven percentage points from values during the first lockdown. Transit systems such as metros, buses, and trains too are picking up, with mobility reaching roughly 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, between May 4 and 7.

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Among states, West Bengal reduced its public life most stringently in the second phase, as cases surged from 200 in phase 1 of the lockdown to 2,000 in the second. While its retail activity dipped 15 points (more than all others in any phase) in this duration, it still did not see the same level of reductions in groceries, parks, and workplace activity as the rest of the country in this period.

Madhya Pradesh, similarly, saw a tightening of movement in retail (down 8 percentage points) and parks (down 17) in the second phase as cases in the state grew from 900 to 3,000. In this phase, Gujarat (with cases from 800 to 5,500) saw retail dip by seven points and parks by eight, but saw an unusual increase in workplace activity by six points.

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Second only to Delhi, Maharashtra already saw a significant reduction in most activities from the first phase.

Nationwide, grocery and pharmacy visits have seen the largest spurt to normalcy throughout the phases. Movement here has roughly doubled over the phases. It saw a 60 per cent average reduction in the first phase, but now is only 35 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. In fact, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kerala have almost pre-pandemic levels of activity in this category.

There has been little change in activity in residential spaces, staying at a 25-percentage-point increase from the baseline levels – indicating more people staying in homes than during pre-pandemic times.

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