How Metro Cebu residents moved around during Christmas holidays

Mobility data gathered by Google showed how Metro Cebu residents did last-minute grocery shopping leading to Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and stayed home on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. This one is expected behavior but not only is having the data fascinating, it offers context on the extent of changes in how Cebuanos moved around.

Visits to Groceries and Pharmacies spiked two days before and on the eve of the holidays before falling off a cliff on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, when stays in Residence went up, although not as high as during strict lockdowns in May.

Mobility data in Metro Cebu
(The graph below is interactive. You can use the search field to drill down to specific locations)

The increases in visits to Groceries during the holiday rush were the only times Metro Cebu residents logged visits outside the Residence higher than the baseline in January, before restrictions were imposed on movements to deal with the COVID-19 spread.

There was also an increase in visits to Parks (which covers beaches) in the days leading to Christmas and New Year but these were way lower than those recorded in January. The highest recorded visits to parks and beaches were on December 23 (-7%), December 24 (-8%), and December 30 (-8%).

There were spikes in visits to Workplaces on December 19 (-10%) and December 20 (-11%). I wonder whether these indicated office gatherings for the holidays.

Retail and Recreation, which also covers restaurants, went up to -14% on December 23, which probably indicates people going on Christmas lunches and dinners. Retail and Recreation visits in Metro Cebu for the rest of the year were very low compared with other locations and in relation to the baseline.

Compared with other urban centers in the Philippines, Metro Cebu recorded significantly lower visits to locations outside the Residence.

The data is gathered from users of Google Maps. The changes are calculated by Google “using the same kind of aggregated and anonymized data used to show popular times for places in Google Maps.”

It was made available by Google to help inform governments and institutions in the fight against COVID-19.

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