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New data that offer a glimpse into Manitobans' movements at the beginning of provincewide pandemic code-red restrictions show people were, for the most part, staying home.

Trips to workplaces, shopping centres, recreation sites and transit stations dropped significantly this fall, compared with pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, according to recently released location data from Google.

Google's latest mobility data, which it collects when users have location services enabled on their cellphones or other electronic devices, shows Canadians' movements between Oct. 4 and Nov. 15. Google released the data as a point of comparison with movements before the pandemic began, and the decrease in activity appears to be in line with tightened public-health restrictions.

Pandemic visits to workplaces.

Pandemic visits to workplaces.

Code-red restrictions came into force in Winnipeg Nov. 2, and were imposed across the province Nov. 12. At the same time, Winnipeg logged a surge in trips to grocery stores and a plunge in visits to workplaces, the data show.

As of mid-November, there was a 47 per cent drop in Manitobans' visits to retail and recreation sites such as restaurants, shopping centres, libraries, museums, and movie theatres, compared with pre-pandemic data from January to February. In April, the province logged a 42 per cent drop.

Pandemic visits to retail and recreational locations.

Pandemic visits to retail and recreational locations.

In nearly all categories, Manitobans' movements were below national levels. Google recorded a 25 per cent drop in Manitobans' trips to grocery stores and pharmacies, a 62 per cent decrease in trips to transit stations, and a 29 per cent dip in trips to workplaces.

The only increase — of 11 per cent — was for visits to residences.

Pandemic visits to residential locations.

Pandemic visits to residential locations.

The data is limited in it doesn't specify whether people were more likely to stay at their own residence or were visiting others — something that is now prohibited. As of Nov. 20, Manitobans aren't allowed to be in a home they don't live in unless they're providing an essential service (such as child care or home care), making a delivery or responding to an emergency.

People who live alone are allowed to have one designated visitor.

Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin has said it will take up to two weeks to see whether the rules imposed Friday are curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

michael.pereira@freepress.mb.ca

Michael Pereira

Michael Pereira
Data journalist

Michael Pereira is a data journalist and developer who spends his days pulling data from (sometimes unwilling) sources, extracting meaning for readers and producing graphics that tell a story.

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Katie May

Katie May
Justice reporter

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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