• Fri. Oct 22nd, 2021

Key trends in Sri Lankans’ mobility habits during the second wave of COVID-19

COVID 19 has drastically changed the mobility trends around the world. Sri Lanka is no different to these changes and in fact, the country’s mobility trends were extremely volatile with three different COVID phases. Work From Home (WFH) measures, mobility restrictions, and lockdowns, availability of E-Commerce has contributed to these changes in mobility trends.

A community mobility report by Google highlights how Sri Lanka’s mobility trends have shifted since the most recent spike in COVID cases within the island.

According to the report, mobility trends for places of work have dropped by 42% compared to pre-covid times. This significant drop indicates that the private sector moved back to adopting the WFH model, which was practiced by most of the private sector companies during the first wave of the pandemic. The recent spike of COVID cases was centered predominantly around the western province, hence quarantine curfew was imposed on the western province and some high-risk areas for a couple of weeks. In fact, some areas in the western province were completely locked down and still remain under the lockdown. During the recent curfew period, most of the government offices were also closed down except for essential services.

However, the report highlights a rise in mobility trends for places of residence by 29%. Most of the government and private offices are located in and around Colombo and its suburbs. Since Western Province was hit by the first few COVID cases in early-October, people who resided in Western Province for working purposes returned to their permanent residences. Since most of the factories in theWestern Province were closed, employees who stayed in the city may also have returned to their hometowns.  The school children were on holidays and other educational institutions such as universities were closed and tuition classes came to a temporary halt. It might be possible that these movements contributed to the rise of places of residence.

The Mobility trends for places such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, parks, museums, and libraries have dropped by 48% due to mobility restrictions such as curfew and lockdowns. A similar scenario rues for the mobility trends associated with parks, beaches, and other holiday destinations with a 35% drop. Since most of the supermarkets began delivery services, people could get their essentials delivered to their doorsteps which probably has reduced the need to travel outside. Most of the pharmacies also initiated delivery services. This is reflected in the 23% drop in mobility trends for supermarkets and pharmacies.

The pandemic from its early stages affected public transport. People with personal vehicles who utilized public transport shifted to their personal vehicles, especially motorbikes and cars. The public transport also operated in reduced frequencies during the period, which is yet to return to normal levels. The report highlights a 46% drop in mobility trends for using public transport compared to that of normal usage.

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