Despite Corona restrictions, many people are on the move

Many facilities remain closed in November, but people are not at home. Many now know how to be mobile in the Corona period.

In motion: a picture from the pedestrian zone in Darmstadt in November

RRestaurants, theaters and tattoo studios are closed. In the fight against the corona pandemic, people should have as few contacts as possible in November, work a lot from home and not travel privately. The new restrictions also reduce the movements of many citizens, but this has only been slightly noticed so far.

Mobility drops much less compared to the standstill in March. Traffic researcher Barbara Lenz recognizes differences between the beginning of the pandemic and today. “Mobility is now falling significantly less than in April: That probably has to do with maintaining all shopping opportunities, but also with the fact that many have now found an option for themselves to stay mobile despite Corona,” says Lenz, who runs the institute for transport research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin, the FAZ

People cover almost a third of all trips outside the home in normal times for shopping and other errands, which is currently still possible in contrast to spring. Daycare centers and schools also remain open. At the end of March, for the first Corona wave, mobility fell by more than 30 percent compared to the same month last year.

Cell phone data show lower mobility

At the beginning of November, the decline was less: on the first two days of the nationwide restriction measures, the national average fell by 3.7 percent and 6.4 percent compared to the previous day of the week and by 5 percent and 6 percent compared to the previous year. The Federal Statistical Office evaluated anonymized mobile phone data for this purpose.

Passers-by run through downtown Hanover.
Passers-by run through downtown Hanover.: Image: dpa

The authority speaks of the assumption that with low mobility, the number of social interactions and thus the risk of infection also decrease. In corona hotspots, the movements according to the mobile phone data decreased more than in counties with fewer infections. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) justified the new restrictions with a close connection between the number of contacts and the number of people infected. “That means we have to reduce contacts wherever possible,” she said.

In order to stay mobile during the pandemic, some bicycled more, especially in spring and summer. Yet citizens rarely dared to use new means of transport during the crisis. According to a representative survey by Lenz and colleagues, they rather vary existing behavior and place the car and the bicycle in a rather one-sided way. “Anyone who got on their bikes due to Corona also rode their bikes in pre-Corona times,” says Lenz. The traffic researcher speaks of multimodals as those who usually use different modes of transport over the course of a week. Therefore, she calls multimodality in non-pandemic times a very good preparation in order to then remain flexible in terms of mobility in pandemic times.

Bus and train continue to be the losers of corona mobility. Lenz expects usage to drop again in November. “The majority of people feel much less comfortable in means of transport that they use with others than in individual means of transport,” she says. The local transport companies are currently expecting fewer passengers, albeit more than in the spring.