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NZ travelling 91% less than usual, Google data shows – but Aussies still out and about

New Zealanders have reacted to the Level 4 coronavirus lockdown by staying home in huge numbers, Google tracking data released today confirms.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge usually sees about 170,000 vehicles each day, but during lockdown there's only a trickle of “essential” workers. Source: 1 NEWS

Trips to retail and recreation sites are down 91 per cent across New Zealand, with little variation between regions.

However, across the Tasman the fall in such trips was only 45 per cent, according to the data.

And while Kiwis are making 54 per cent less trips for grocery and pharmacy shopping than usual, in Australia the reduction is just 19 per cent.

The data, which covers the period up to March 29, showed similar drops to New Zealand’s travel in many of the countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including Italy and Spain.

However, the United States, which has the most confirmed cases of any nation, has seen travel for retail and recreation down just 47 per cent. And in Sweden, which has largely stayed away from the idea of lockdowns, such travel has fallen only 24 per cent.

Google's travel data for selected countries - from google.com/covid19/mobility/ Source: 1 NEWS

Some New Zealanders have been criticised for trips to the beach, and Health Minister David Clark got a wrap on the knuckles from the Prime Minster yesterday for going to a Dunedin mountain bike track. But overall trips to parks are down 78 per cent.

Australia’s approach to suppressing the epidemic has been less clear than in New Zealand, with differing approaches from Canberra and the individual states and territories. Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week toughened up the stance, warning Australians they may face social distancing arrangements for six months or more.

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US President Donald Trump originally called the epidemic a “hoax” but has now introduced stronger measures, though restrictions on movement there vary from state to state.

Google says the data is anonymised and does not breach privacy, and warns that comparisons between countries and regions may be affected by different characteristics, such as rural versus urban settings. It says the information could help public health officials to “make critical decisions to combat Covid-19”.

Search for individual countries or regions here - https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/