Google data suggests Canadians following COVID-19 rules, but experts wary over privacy

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Nearly three months into lockdowns and physical distancing in the time of COVID-19, it seems Canadians are still getting the message.

Recent data collected by Google provides insight into how public health measures have affected people’s behaviour. And it suggests Canadians are generally still staying home.

The aggregate data, posted online by Google’s Alphabet Inc. unit, shows daily traffic to retail and recreational venues, parks, transit stations, grocery stores and workplaces between March 19 and April 30 compared to a five-week period earlier this year.

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Residential visits represent the only increase of the bunch — they went up by 23 per cent in Canada — perhaps signalling that the messaging is sticking as the virus lingers.

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Across the country, retail visits fell about 47 per cent compared to the baseline period between Jan. 3 and Feb. 6. Workplace visits sank nearly 57 per cent in the latest period. Nationwide travel to transit hubs, including subway, bus and train stations, was down 65 per cent.

Taking a closer look at each province,


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