Google report reveals how Ontario residents are responding to social distancing
In this Thursday, March 26, 2020, photo, playground equipment is surrounded by caution tape at Wayside Park in Crestview, Fla. Beaches and many public parks and spaces have been closed recently in an attempt to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. (Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)
TORONTO -- A Google report is showing how people in Ontario are responding to social distancing advice amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first report covers the period between February 16 and March 29, and revels the impact emergency orders have had on movement trends.
In Ontario, visits to retail and recreation locations such as museums, cafes, restaurant and shopping centres have dropped by 59 per cent from average.
The report found that transit station visits dropped by 66 per cent and travel to work dropped by 46 per cent.
The impact on visits to homes, parks and grocery/pharmacy stores haven’t been affected as much by COVID-19, the report said.
Visits to homes and parks both only dropped by 14 per cent, while visits to grocery stores dropped by 33 per cent.
The report shows the number of visits to parks appears to spike during the weekends. Toronto Mayor John Tory criticized residents flocking to parks in great numbers this past weekend.
Tory announced a new “physical distancing” bylaw on Thursday afternoon, which means anyone caught walking within two metres of another person in a Toronto public park or square may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000.
In Quebec, the change in travel trends was reported to be the most significant in Canada.
Visits to parks dropped by 68 per cent, visits to retail and recreation places dropped by 70 per cent and visits to transit stations dropped by 75 per cent.
The data used for the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports is normally drawn from use of apps such as Google Maps to report when places of interest are busiest and to calculate driving routes.
Currently, the reports are available for 131 countries and regions.
“Google prepared this report to help you and public health officials understand responses to social distancing guidance related to COVID-19,” the popular search engine’s report stated.
“This report shouldn’t be used for medical diagnostic, prognostic, or treatment purposes. It also isn’t intended to be used for guidance on personal travel plans.”