MOBILITY in the Valencian Community approaches pre-pandemic levels
It would appear that transport and mobility are on everyone’s minds at the moment, what with Boris Johnson set to detail his plans for easing travel restrictions and the thorny subject of vaccination passports never far away. In fact, European data protection watchdogs have sought clarification on whether the so-called Covid passports will just be used to encourage a return to international travel, or if we’ll be expected to produce them to also enter shopping centres and bars. Whatever the future may hold, it seems that In Valencia at least both Spaniards and expats alike are taking a boost from the reducing Covid numbers to access shops, bars and restaurants more and more in recent weeks.
According to the latest report on local mobility obtained by Google using the geolocation on mobile phones, more people are getting out and about in the Valencian Community since March after the region pretty much ground to a stand-still in February amid the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The new information has also revealed that more people in Valencia have returned to their physical places of work compared with Madrid and Catalonia, where more people are still working from home.
The study is possible because of Google’s Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports initiative which was launched in April last year as a means of tracking movement during the pandemic, as reported by Spanish daily Levante. Rather than recording user data, the system simply obtains the “anonymous and aggregated” information of how many phones move from point A to point B at any given time through the use of Google apps like Google Maps. The report is populated by taking an average of trips for work, leisure and using public transport, and the Valencian Community data shows that there has been a huge increase in the number of trips to shopping centres and bars and restaurants. There was another big jump back in December 2020 in the run-up to Christmas.
When the report is considered by province, Alicante is the region in Valencia which has seen the smallest increase in mobility overall; Alicante was hit harder by the third wave of Covid than either Valencia or Castellon, so this is perhaps unsurprising. Alicante transport stations have 23 per cent fewer passengers than before the outbreak of the pandemic compared to those in the province of Valencia, which are used by 12 per cent fewer users than in January 2020.
Interestingly, the study shows that the use of parks has increased by 23 per cent compared to before the pandemic, whereas mobility to retail and hospitality establishments is only down 21 per cent despite the capacity limitations and early closures.