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Source: Asia Development Bank

Governments currently want to know how to take a more targeted approach to lockdowns and mobility restrictions that will balance containing the pandemic and running the economy. This policy brief explores this central question using data from Tokyo to understand the potential impact of various mobility restrictions when non-compulsory measures were in place, and estimates the impacts on social contact and COVID-19 infections. Using big data mobility analytics, the brief will focus on the following issues: (1) the relationship between mobility restrictions and the COVID-19 spread; (2) the inequalities in terms of the mobility restrictions; and (3) the optimal level of mobility restrictions to contain the COVID-19 spread.

Key points
  • Governments must decide how to balance mobility restrictions while ensuring economic recovery so that losses can be minimized.
  • Analysis of Japan reveals a strong association between social contact reduction and a decrease in the effective reproduction number.
  • Travel decreased significantly even before the emergency declaration, but the benefits of restricting mobility beyond 60% in Tokyo could be marginal.
  • Higher-income households are more likely than lower-income households to be able to reduce their social contact via reducing mobility.
  • Future policies should be city-specific and based on the distribution of business types and the needs of the local community, health considerations, and infection rates.
  • Each city should determine the optimal mobility restrictions based on data analytics, local conditions that include the spatial distribution of high-risk groups, the type of mobility patterns, city structure, social norms, and the built environment.
Policy Brief No: 2020-6

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