When we search for a place on Google, the result will often include the type of place (grocery, public park, etc.), and the usual “popular hours” of visitors at that place, by week days and hours. The number of visitors is estimated by Google’s algorithm based on the location data coming from our mobile phones (Android operating system, whose location history is enabled).
Recently, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, Google started issuing mobility reports comparing the level of activity in countries and counties around the world, by types of places. Every day is compared to the same day of the week, in the pre-Corona period. The data show that most countries in the world are exiting from the shut down, and Israel is no different in that sense, but maybe doing so at a faster pace. We looked into the trends at work places.

After Purim, there was, according to the data, one more day of return to work on almost full scale (March 12), followed by a steep decline in the activity in workplaces, which reached a negative peak at 60% lower than usual, from March 26, to April 6, Passover eve (Saturdays, holidays and Election Day saw lower work volumes).

A similar trend has also prevailed in the activities in other types of places. Restaurants, shops and culture venues fell by 80% on the same dates, with the exception of a small increase before Passover, and another increase in the week beginning March 22. With regard to groceries and pharmacies, during the whole period, the drop in activity was only about 20%.
Since the end of Passover, there has been an increase in the activity at workplaces, which ascended to 40% less than usual on May 1 (the latest figure in the file*). Shopping and restaurants also saw an increase, as did public parks, where activity volume reached only 6% less than before the Corona period.

Comparing five of the major European countries, it seems that in all them the cessation of work began at a similar time, with the exception of Italy, which started a week earlier. In Germany, the maximum decline rate was only 47%. In Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain, the decline in work attendance was higher than in Israel, peaking at about 70% less than usual. Return towards full activity in these four countries is also slower, and they are still lower than Israel on most parameters, including work, parks, retail, and transit use.


*For an updated version of these data see the Hebrew text

Google LLC “Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports”. https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/ Accessed: May 11.