FCCA report: Restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic caused the number of recreational area visitors and public transport customers to plummet

Restrictions that aimed to prevent the spread of coronavirus have significantly reduced people’s mobility, especially in recreational areas and public transport. However, according to the FCCA report, no single restriction alone provides an explanation for the changes. Instead this is an entity that is also influenced by prompts and recommendations by authorities and people’s increased knowledge and concern about the virus.

The FCCA has examined the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, for example, to the number of visitors to recreational areas and parks as well as the number of customers in grocery stores, pharmacies, and various means of public transport between 12 March and 7 May 2020. Changes in mobility have been linked to dates when restrictions have been introduced. The report was produced parallel with the FCCA producing material for the use of a working group headed by Vesa Vihriälä, which is assessing the financial impacts of the corona crisis.

Mobility data is based on location data collected by Google from 131 countries and on the route finder searches made by Apple users in 63 countries. Based on this information, there have been changes to mobility in Finland that are similar to those in the 131 countries on average. The number of public transport customers fell by half, and physical activity in recreational areas decreased by more than one third.

On the other hand, the number of customers at grocery stores and pharmacies decreased considerably less in Finland and Sweden than what they did on average in other countries. Whereas customer numbers dropped on average by 25 per cent in the 131 countries, In Finland they dropped by 11 per cent and only by 4 per cent in Sweden where restrictive measures have been substantially lighter than in other countries. Finland and Sweden also differ from many other countries in that the number of visitors to parks in both countries increased by more than 50 per cent, whereas elsewhere they decreased by an average of 27 per cent. These differences are largely due to the fact that many countries have introduced lockdowns thus banning movement outdoors.

Restrictions alone do not provide an explanation for these changes

The report outlines that restrictions set by different countries differ in terms of scope and timing. For example, changes in mobility in Finland and Sweden were very similar until 17 March 2020, at which time Finland introduced stricter restrictive measures and closed down public spaces. Restrictions in Denmark, Estonia and Norway have been roughly the same as in Finland, and they have been tightened at the same times.

Even so, it is impossible to demonstrate that a certain restriction directly influenced the use of certain services. Many restrictions have been introduced at the same time, which makes it difficult to distinguish the effect of an individual restriction. In addition, the recommendations and prompts by authorities as well as the perceptions citizens have of the seriousness of the situation and the threat associated with the virus may have influenced mobility.

FCCA report on the impacts of corona and its related restrictions on mobility (in Finnish)


Senior Economist Antti Sieppi, tel. +358 (0)29 505 3045
Economist Miika Heinonen, tel. +358 (0)29 505 3077, etunimi.sukunimi@kkv.fi