First week of "lockdown light"

On 2 November, 2020, comprehensive mobility restrictions took effect in Germany. It is hoped that this “lockdown light” will help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.

These restrictions have now been in effect for over one week. Although it is too early to tell how they affected the spread of COVID-19, we can already ask: Do we observe a change in mobility in Germany? And is the effect comparable to spring?

General mobility

Countrywide, mobility has decreased slightly since 2 November. One week later, on Tuesday, 10 November, mobility is -10% lower than last year at around the same time.

Compared to spring 2020, the reduction in mobility is relatively small so far. In spring, we observed a decline in mobility of up to -40% below the previous year (in the 7 day average). Back then, this reduction happened in a relatively short span of 2 weeks.

However, we expect that mobility will further decline in the coming weeks. The current situation is also quite different from that in spring: Measures such as increased hygiene, social distancing and masks help reduce the risk of infection, such that people might reduce their movements less drastically than they did in spring. In addition, restrictions are not as strict, and schools and child care facilities remain open in general, which leads to increased mobility.

Mobility in federal states

On state level we see a very diverse situation. During the first wave, mobility changed quite uniformly in the states, but since then differences have emerged.

Most noticeable is the increased mobility in german vacation destinations during the summer months: In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, mobility was up to +75% higher than usual. Within this state, mobility was especially high in coastal areas (which is clearly visible in the Mobility Monitor), which indicates that the cause for the increased mobility is an increase in tourism within Germany.

Hint: A single click on a state adds or removes its line. A double click focuses on one state.

We also observe a comparatively lower mobility in the federal city states of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, which is similar to what we see for other major cities.

Mobility in major cities

We also see a stronger decrease in mobility in major cities compared to other areas, same as we did in spring. This plot shows the mobility for the 20 biggest cities in Germany, which almost always lie below the German average.

Effect of local lockdowns

During the second wave, there have been a few local lockdowns which took effect before the germanywide lockdown. For the two hotspots Rottal-Inn and Berchtesgadener Land, mobility declined to around -20% to -30% below normal at around the time of the lockdown, and relaxed to the countrywide average afterwards.

Long-distance mobility

As in spring, we observe that long distance travel declined more strongly than local mobility.

This can be seen by comparing the movements within counties and the ones across county borders. Before spring, both hardly differed from their levels in the previous year.

Since the first wave, mobility between districts has been reduced more strongly than within districts, which again holds true during this lockdown-light. This indicates that long-distance travel is mostly affected by the mobility restrictions.

Summary and outlook

One week after mobility restrictions took effect we observe a decrease in mobility to around -10% below normal on Tuesday, 10 November 2020.

The decline in mobility is less drastic than in spring so far. We do expect a further decline in the coming weeks however.

You can observe the current situation in our Mobility Monitor

Frank Schlosser
Frank Schlosser
Scientific Project Lead

Frank is researching human mobility and its relation to epidemic spreading