22 Apr 2020

Bubble-bound: Data shows most people obeying rules

2:01 pm on 22 April 2020

Global data collected by Google shows most New Zealanders are continuing to abide by level 4 restrictions, despite an increase in lockdown breaches and convictions.

A woman walks across an empty intersection in Christchurch, New Zealand, on April 16, 2020. New Zealand is currently in alert level four.

A woman walks near Victoria Square in central Christchurch during the alert level 4 lockdown. Photo: AFP

Google is releasing the anonymised data, collected through location history on people's mobile phones, every week during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest update, containing data through to 11 April, showed there had been no significant change in the average number of trips New Zealanders were making to supermarkets, parks, workplaces and other regular haunts.

For the week starting 5 April, trips to the parks and beaches were down 72 percent on normal, on average; trips to supermarkets and pharmacies were down 42 percent; trips to workplaces were down by 71 percent; and trips to retail and recreation facilities such as libraries and malls were down 89 percent.

Snaking on and off ramps of the North Western Motorways empty of traffic looking back to the city.

A freeze frame from drone footage showing the north-western motorway in Auckland. Photo: RNZ

That represented no change from the previous two weeks of lockdown, although the numbers did briefly sink even lower during the first three days of the restrictions.

Day-by-day figures vary: the day before Good Friday recorded a spike in people visiting grocery stores and pharmacies before they closed for the public holiday.

The Google figures followed data released by the Transport Agency yesterday showing continued massive drops in traffic volumes and public transport use last week.

A set of four graphs showing large decreases in visits to supermarkets and pharmacies, parks and workplaces, and an increase in the amount of time people are spending at home.

Source: Google LLC "Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports." https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/ Accessed: 21 April, 2020. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

The Google mobility data, which charts movements for 131 countries, shows New Zealanders are making fewer visits to all locations than Australians, who - while still in a strict lockdown - remain able to buy takeaways and visit some stores.

While visits to supermarkets and pharmacies were down across the Tasman, fluctuating between 20 to 60 percent fewer trips than normal, the day before Good Friday actually recorded a spike 15 percent higher than normal, non-lockdown conditions.

Pedestrians practise social distancing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak along a street of Lower Hutt, near Wellington, on April 20, 2020.

People practise social distancing on a Lower Hutt street. Photo: AFP

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