February - May 2020
The United States is continuing to take measures to ease lockdown restrictions to allow certain businesses and organisations to re-open. Amongst those organisations are parks and recreation grounds and centres. Bryce Canyon National Park, in south eastern Utah, draws more than 1.5 million visitors every year, but has been closed since 7 April to reduce the spread of coronavirus. It was widely reported that it was reopening from 6 May to enable visitors to return to the park to hike and enjoy the scenery.
To provide an insight into the impact of stay-at-home orders and easing of restrictions on visitor behaviour, we analysed visitor volumes and aggregated and anonymised journey start locations of those travelling to Bryce Canyon from the end of February - to benchmark behaviour before COVID-19 - right up until the beginning of May.
Our connected car data reveals that pre-COVID 19, visitors came from a broad catchment area, from Las Vegas right up to Salt Lake City. Throughout March, as coronavirus continues to spread across the US and in the lead up to the park’s closure, we see visitor numbers start to decline, with visitors typically coming from local areas only.
From 6 May, our data shows a steady increase in the volume of visitors and we start to see to see visitors come from further afield, in a similar pattern to that seen pre-COVID 19.
1st - 2nd May 2020
Georgia was the first US state to ease lockdown, with businesses including gyms, hairdressers, tattoo studios and restaurants all now able to reopen their doors to some degree. To provide context to our analysis on travel patterns following the easing of restrictions, we looked back to pre-coronavirus trends.
Our data science team analysed vehicle usage on Fridays for February, March and April. In Georgia in February, vehicles were stationary for around 15.5 hours. Vehicle usage decreased in parallel with the coronavirus pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. On Good Friday (10 April), vehicles were stationary for 20% longer than in February, marking the peak of the downward trend in vehicle usage.
Broadening out the analysis to surrounding southern states – including South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee – we see a similar trend emerge of vehicle usage gradually declining up until Good Friday. Following the Easter weekend, vehicle usage starts to increase per 24-hour periods in Georgia and its surrounding states - despite stay-at-home orders being in place at this time.
Georgia provides a relevant case study as to how the easing of lockdown could impact the surrounding southern states, and beyond. We analysed the first journeys made where vehicles hadn’t been active for at least a two-week period.
Despite the opening of beauty salons and restaurants, etc... we can see that the majority of journeys were either a round trip – likely to a drive thru – or to visit friends of family. Only 2.8% visited hair and beauty establishments, while sports and recreational trips made up just 5.7% of journeys.
We will continue to analyse and report on trends in Georgia and the surrounding states.