It seems like provincial residents are finally getting the message. Most of it, anyway. A Google mobility report published on Friday, April 3 suggests advice about Ontario social distancing has already had a significant impact in the province.
The report focuses on changes from February 16 to March 29 and highlights six categories in which social distancing measures have been shown to be prompting changes in public behaviour.
And the data shows that after Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in the province on March 17, residents seemed to start taking precautions more seriously.
The data shows how much of an impact recent emergency protocols and measures are having on several areas of our everyday lives.
Perhaps most notably, when it comes to retail and recreation activities, Ontario has seen a 59% drop throughout the weeks after February 16. This includes restaurants, malls, and non-essential stores.
[rebelmouse-image 25976300 photo_credit="Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report" expand=1 original_size="763x468"]
Meanwhile, transit stations have become shells of their former selves, with traffic down 66%.
This stat likely goes hand-in-hand with the workplace section, which has seen a 46% drop.
But, when turning the focus onto essential stores like groceries and pharmacies, the trend has been somewhat balanced. However, it has still dropped by 33%.
“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," reads the Google report.
There was a point where there was a spike as people sped to their local stores to heavily stock up on goods, even going as far as lining up to do so.
Parks have only seen a slight drop of 14% amid social distancing measures.
That is perhaps not that surprising, given that Toronto Mayor John Tory needed to enact a bylaw for people who don't practice social distancing with a fine of up to $5000.
That came after disappointing scenes of people still heading to parks and breaking the law despite closures.
But of course, for residential, there's a 14% increase as people stay at home.
In order to find this information, Google utilized users' location services like phone contacts or movement, as well as their location history setting which is off unless the user turns it on.
So, regardless of what you think of it as a strategy, the championed idea of social distancing seems to be working in Ontario.