India had one of the strictest lockdown regimes in the world in its first two phases, with relaxations creeping in only after 40 days. Non-essential activities were banned and so was public transport, which restricted mobility to a great extent.
In fact, it was in Delhi that public movement was most limited among all Indian states in the lockdown period, an analysis of Google’s “Covid-19 Community Mobility Report” by India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) has found.
The Google mobility report measures state-wise people’s movement in six areas – retail and recreational activities, parks, grocery and pharmacy, transit stations, workplaces and residential areas.
The changes in movement towards particular locations are deviations from the baseline. Google defines the baseline as median value to the corresponding day in the five-week normal period from January 3 to February 6.
The percentage decline in public movement is measured by deviation from average mobility in the normal period. The time period DIU analysed is from March 22 (the day of janta curfew) to May 7. The full report can be seen here..
All over India, compared to normal days, there was a 79 per cent decline in public movement towards retail and recreational areas, 57 per cent decline towards transit stations (buses, metros, etc.), 31 per cent decline towards groceries and pharmacies, and 59 per cent decline towards parks. While movement in residential areas saw an increase of 26 per cent, movement towards workplaces saw a 56 per cent decline.
Delhi comes to a standstill
DIU took each parameter and assessed it for states with over 1,000 cases – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. We then compared these states with the national average and found that in all the parameters, Delhi showed maximum reduction in public movement. We will have a look at each parameter.
Retail and recreation
This parameter gives us mobility trends for places like restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theatres.
On an average, Delhi witnessed an 85 per cent decline in movement towards these places, whereas the national average was 79 per cent. The average decline in West Bengal, which started taking the lockdown seriously only in the second phase (i.e., after April 14), was 83 per cent.
In the first phase of lockdown, Delhi saw an 85 per cent decline in movement towards retail and recreational areas. The same was hardly 68 per cent in Bengal, which was the lowest among the states we analysed. This means that in Lockdown 1.0, movement towards shopping centres in Bengal did not decline as much as it did in the country on an average.
However, in the second phase of lockdown, when Bengal started witnessing a rise in cases, restrictions were severely imposed and data backs it. The average decline in movement towards retail and recreational areas in the state was 68 per cent in Lockdown 1.0 and 85 per cent in Lockdown 2.0.
The Mamata Banerjee government was accused of lacking transparency in its Covid-19 reporting. It accepted its fault only after the Centre’s intervention in the first week of May.
Delhi saw the maximum decline in movement towards workplaces at 77 per cent, while the national average was 56 per cent. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh witnessed a 43 per cent decline – the lowest among the states we analysed – in movement towards workplaces in the lockdown period.
Grocery and pharma
The Centre had categorised groceries and pharmacies as essential goods and shopping for them was allowed during the lockdown. However, movement towards these shops also declined, particularly in Delhi, where the maximum decline of 57 per cent was observed against the national average of 31 per cent.
In Uttar Pradesh, the decline was hardly 24 per cent, which was the lowest among the states we analysed. This means that amid lockdown, movement of people towards local grocers and medicine shops was relatively higher in UP.
Transit stations and parks
Transit stations refer to public places where people get public transport, such as bus stops, metros and railway stations. During lockdown, modes of public transport were restricted to emergency services only. Since there was no public transport, as a result, movement towards such places also came down – 57 per cent on an average.
Delhi, which boasts of India’s biggest metro network, saw the maximum decline in footfall. Public mobility to transit stations reduced by 78 per cent in the Capital, much higher when compared to the national average. On the other hand, in Andhra Pradesh, people’s movement towards transit stations reduced by 50 per cent – lowest among the states analysed.
Not just transit stations, parks, where people of all age groups gather to socialise, exercise and play, also went empty during the lockdown. On an average, India saw a 59 per cent decline in people’s movement towards parks.
Here too, Delhi had the steepest fall in footfall in parks. On an average, there was a 95 per cent decline in people’s movement towards parks. Data also shows that from April 15-29, people’s movement to parks declined by 98 per cent in Delhi, much higher than the national average. On the contrary, movement to parks in Tamil Nadu declined by only 39 per cent – lowest among the states analysed.
However, these statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt since they are obtained from people’s devices. There are many people who could be out on the roads, but do not possess electronics that leave their location footprint.