North Bay residents have been spending slightly more time at home and significantly less time commuting to transit stations, retail and recreational facilities, and parks since January and February 2020, before home stay orders took effect. This is based on data compiled by the Google COVID-19 community on the mobility report.
The mobility report compares the frequency and time spent visiting common places from January 13 to March 14, 2021 with the baseline data from January 3 to February 6, 2020, before most shelter-in-place assignments have been implemented. Google uses data from its location services such as Google Maps to analyze how social distancing guidelines are followed around the world.
Less protection at home
Residents of the area are spending more time at home than they did before the pandemic started, but the time they spend at home has decreased since the first home orders were placed in mid-March 2020.
Sonoma County’s residents spend approximately 7% more time at home than they did prior to the pandemic, Solano County’s 5%, Marin County 8%, Mendocino County 6%, and Lake County 4%.
However, the time people spend at home decreased from March 2020 to March 2021. According to data from February 16 to March 29, 2020, residents of Sonoma County spent 15% more time in their homes (8 percentage points higher than current data), Solano County 13% (+8 points), Marin County 17% (+ 11 points), Mendocino County 17% (+11 points) and Lake County 16% (+12 points).
Google found that some Lake County data was below quality standards a year ago, meaning the data was too sparse for a few days.
Where do North Bay residents go who spend less time at home? The Google data suggests that more people are turning to workplaces, stores, stores, salons, restaurants and other entertainment options, as well as parks. However, the large drop in transit use during the pandemic has barely improved.
Commute more to work
People are commuting to work more now than in March 2020. When home lodging started last year, Sonoma County’s people were 41% less commuting than they did before the pandemic and now commuting 18% less. In Solano County, commuting has increased from 34% below pre-pandemic levels a year ago to 16%, Marin to 42% to 19%, Mendocino to 32% to 14%, and Lake to 33% to 9%.
More time to shop
Google divides pandemic mobility into two segments for retail. Groceries and pharmacies include markets, grocery stores, farmers markets, specialty grocery stores, drug stores, and pharmacies. Retail and entertainment include restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, theme parks, museums, libraries, and cinemas.
North Bay theaters and museums opened briefly in June, and recently when local counties moved into the red (“significant” spread) of California’s pandemic reopening system late last month and early this month. The North Bay’s only major theme park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, has been open for limited tours since July. The rides are expected to reopen on April 1st.
Groceries and pharmacies are a retail category that is widely viewed as “essential” services during the pandemic. Data from Google showed that these stores saw less of a decline in customer travel declines than the rest of the retail and entertainment stores in the sector compared to the past.
In Sonoma County, food and pharmacy mobility rebounded from 22% in the early days of shelter orders to 18% below pre-pandemic levels. In Solano County, visitor traffic increased from 18% to 16% and from 30% to Marin to 22%.
For general retail and entertainment, Sonoma County’s residents spend 27% fewer visits to such facilities than before the pandemic, up from 53% fewer last year. Solano 20% less than 45%; Marin 29% less, compared to 61%.
Mendocino and Lake counties in North Bay have done best with residents returning to retailers whose numbers are closer to prepandemic. Mendocino residents shop 5% less than 29%. and lake, 7% less, from 13%. In restaurants and entertainment establishments, Mendocino residents go 11% less from 47%. and lake, 2% less, from 38%.
More time in parks
Park visits have decreased by more than a third in pre-pandemic Marin and Sonoma counties (up from a decrease of about 60% a year ago from pre-pandemic levels). But Solano County’s residents are back outdoors, 20% below pre-pandemic visits. However, residents of Mendocino and Lake Counties are almost back to normal, with decreases of 4% and 11%, respectively.
Less time in transit
Transit is hardest hit in the North Bay. Transit station visits continue to decline more than half in Marin and Sonoma counties and more than a third in Solano and Mendocino counties.
Lake County’s data this year was deemed too sparse, but was 11% below pre-pandemic levels, down from -42% last year, even with spotty data.
Click here to view data from counties across California.