Analysis: Public becoming more mobile despite restrictions

Smartphone. Photo is illustrative.
Smartphone. Photo is illustrative. Source: ERR

After a quiet period following the introduction of more stringent coronavirus restrictions last month, the public have become more mobile in recent days, particularly in Tallinn and other major population centers, state agency Statistics Estonia reports.

The anonymous data, gathered from mobile phone use, shows that while new restrictions introduced in March 11 were followed by a slow-down in movement, the past 10 days have seen this creep up again, heading into easter and the school vacation.

Prior to March 11, movement had been more active than in the March-May 2020 emergency situation declared by the previous administration.

In the week March 22 to 28, movement had picked up again, BNS reported.

Harju County, which includes Tallinn, and the far more rural Võru County, at the opposite end of the country, saw the biggest turnaround, while Harju was joined by the second and fourth-most populous counties, Tartu and Pärnu so far as weekdays go.

Hiiu, Põlva and Rapla counties, all sparsely-populated largely rural regions, saw the lowest amount of mobility on weekdays.

Pärnu County also saw the largest rise in movement at weekends, while Tartu and Harju counties saw the highest levels of overall movement on Saturday and Sunday; Rapla the least.

Movement also tends to be away from larger population centers to more rural or recreational areas at weekends, particularly to and within areas just outside the capital, resort town Narva-Jõesuu, and Lääne, Ida-Viru, Tartu and Võru counties.

The data was compiled by Statistics Estonia and the government office, with the cooperation of mobile phone operators.

It is aimed at modeling population movement to help forecast infection risk and improve regional communication.

The data considers phones which can be seen to be moving, presumably together with their owners, over significant distances, as against those which remain stationary or do not travel far. The latter group fell as a proportion by two percentage points over the period studied.

The analysis is set to continue to at least the end of this month.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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