EDMONTON -- It’s not just you; the roads are quieter, Albertans are staying at home.

That’s the suggestion from Google data based on where and for how long mobile users are travelling in the province.

Between Feb. 16 and March 29, mobility trends for retail and recreation spaces – like restaurants, shopping centres, museums, theaters and libraries – dropped by 55 per cent.

The data is compared to trends for the five weeks between Jan. 3 and Feb. 6, a full month before Alberta would announce its first presumptive COVID-19 case on March 5.

Across datasets for grocery and pharmacy stores, parks and work places, as well as retail and recreation spots, a drop is seen in the second week of March.

That week, the province would confirm nearly three dozen cases, 911 reports spiked, and schools, events and large gatherings were suspended.

In the weeks since, Alberta’s total number of known cases has climbed towards 1,000, prompting the government to order the public to stay at home or distance themselves if it is necessary to be out, and enable police to enforce the rules.

As of March 29, visitation at grocery stores and pharmacies had fallen by 29 per cent, transit stations by 63 per cent, and workplaces by 41 per cent, according to Google’s research.

The numbers correspond with the company’s national data, which suggests Canadians across the country are going out to retail and rec locations about 59 per cent less.

Percentage change in visitation between Feb 16 and March 29:




Retail and recreation



Grocery and pharmacy






Transit stations









There are a few anomalies across the country; while park use has fallen in most jurisdictions, it rose by 101 per cent in New Brunswick and 95 per cent in Nova Scotia.  

As well, Quebec saw greater drops in activity at retail, recreation, park and transit centres, with numbers falling between 68 and 75 per cent. That province has more than 5,500 confirmed cases as of Thursday.

Although provincial parks, and in Edmonton, city playgrounds, have been closed, provincial health officials are still advising residents to take advantage of outdoor space while keeping two metres away from other users.


Google’s data was collected from customers who have opted in to the Location History setting on their Google account and whose activities met a privacy threshold.

The baseline from which Google calculated jumps and falls in trends is the median value for the corresponding day of the week throughout the five week period in January and February.  

The comparison is made with aggregated and anonymized data from its "popular times" data through Google Maps.