News Coronavirus Google data shows lockdown fatigue in Australia

Google data shows lockdown fatigue in Australia

Queenslanders enjoy the outdoors as restrictions are eased. Photo: Getty
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Australians and US residents have resumed moving about their cities in an apparent sign of lockdown fatigue, while people in Brazil, Japan and Singapore have increased their time at home.

The latest weekly update of aggregated travel patterns Google collected from users’ phones pointed to increased disobedience with lockdown orders in place since March but rising compliance with those issued last month.

The data, posted online late on Thursday (local time), compared daily traffic to retail and recreational venues, parks, train and bus stations, grocery stores and workplaces with a five-week period from January 3 to February 6.

In Australia, visits to transit, workplaces and entertainment venues plunged 80 per cent in mid-April but rebounded later in the month when the rate of new cases slowed.

Google’s US data showed traffic to workplaces was creeping back up. It was down just 48 per cent from the baseline by last Friday after being down 56 per cent on April 10. Southern and Midwestern states were leading the way in resumption of more typical patterns.

Epidemiologists had expected fatigue with US lockdowns, with concerns escalating as weather warmed and people protested against shelter-in-place orders. Infection rates have stabilised in some regions, prompting governors over the last week to ease lockdowns.

The data shows an increase in activity in the UK; visits to parks are only 10 per cent below normal compared to 50 per cent at the start of the lockdown.

Singapore had apparently controlled the spread of the virus through rigorous contact tracing and surveillance, but the nation-state went into lockdown on April 7 after outbreaks in migrant worker dormitories.

Retail and park visits in Singapore fell about 25 per cent in the first weekend of April. They dropped about 70 per cent by April’s final weekend. Workplace visits, down just 20 per cent at the beginning of April, sank nearly 70 per cent by last week.

Traffic to sites in Tokyo measured by Google fell by half after Japan’s emergency declaration and remained at those levels through last weekend. Tokyo’s daily reported new cases have fallen since hitting a peak of 201 on April 17.

-with agencies