NEW: great story from @alekswis & @BillyEhrenberg shows Britons sharply reduced activity during early phase of lockdown (and indeed pre-empted govt reccs), but in recent weeks activity levels have been rising
Data: @huqindustries / @CASAUCL
Story: https://www.ft.com/content/cc70d690-99a6-4056-9ebe-d0b39c40a359 …
London saw sharpest early drops in activity anywhere in the UK, down by almost 70% by mid April. Part of this is due to tourists disappearing, but also lots of home working
Plenty of other areas saw sharp reductions, though in some parts of the country the shift was more muted.
This is best seen by grouping neighbourhoods by type:
• Retail and business park locations saw biggest falls in activity, and are still quiet
• Suburbs (lots of construction workers) and rural (agriculture) saw smallest declines, and are also seeing earliest resurgences
Indeed, the fine-grained location data show that in most parts of the country, activity in the last couple of weeks is up on levels a few weeks earlier.
All of this serves to underscore a pattern that is becoming clear all over the world; not just in the UK:
Timings of people’s changing activity levels over recent wks have been as much voluntary as rule-driven.
True in terms of people staying home pre-lockdown, true of people moving more before lockdown lifted, will be true of people’s reluctance to return to normal post-lockdown
e.g @ClareMalone Kyle Bourassa & @juruwolfe have showed that right across the US, activity levels began falling before local lockdowns came in:
Story -> https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-didnt-wait-for-their-governors-to-tell-them-to-stay-home-because-of-covid-19/ …
Again, this matters because same will be true as restrictions ease.
Govts may like to think they can just switch activity on/off, but people will act independently.
Some will move around more despite no loosening of restrictions; others will stay home weeks after lockdowns end.
This means govts can’t just switch the economy back on to full power overnight.
People will need to feel completely safe before they start piling back into restaurants etc, regardless of when rules permit that. And some behaviours may simply *never* return to normal.
You can follow @jburnmurdoch.
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