Despite the hashtags, appeals from politicians, medical professionals and celebrities, and memes, Trinis still aren’t staying home as much as they should – at least compared to the rest of the Caribbean.
A report produced by Market Facts and Opinion, using data collated from Google’s covid19 community mobility reports, shows TT is the least compliant of five Caribbean territories when it comes to staying home – and people also appeared to be going to work more.
The period of data collection ran from February 16-March 29 – the day before non-essential businesses and personnel were ordered to stay home, and included Carnival. The Government ordered schools, bars, restaurants, cinemas and other recreational activities to shut from the middle of last month.
The national stay-at-home request has been extended until April 30.
TT is also not under a formal state of emergency or curfew restricting movement as are some other Caribbean territories.
Other territories featured in the report are Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and The Bahamas. All have mandated some sort of stay-at-home/social distancing order, restricted businesses to essential activity only, and all have initiated some kind of border lockdown, including international airspace.
“A significant element in the public health messaging is to practise social distancing and, in some cases, social isolation. What this baseline data shows is that Trinidad is the least compliant in this area,” MFO said.
The proportion of those who stayed at home, in all markets, did not increase significantly, which is a reflection of government measures.
Barbados, The Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda were markedly down in attendance at work, the report said.
MFO noted that with respect to their use of retail and recreation spaces, the Trinidadians have been the slowest to comply, while Barbados and The Bahamas are on the other end of the curve. Visits to the grocery and the pharmacy, for example, went down in every other territory besides Trinidad, where it actually increased by ten per cent over the baseline (the median value for the corresponding period immediately prior, so January 3 to February 6).
“It is possible that because of their disposable income profile and the number of grocery and pharmacy outlets, Trinidadians went against the trend, chalking up an increase in their visits. Every other country had a significant decrease,” MFO said.
Traffic at major transport hubs in TT, however, fell drastically, by 70 per cent. Workplace mobility fell by 17 per cent but residential movement increased by nine per cent.
The Bahamas, on the other hand, the report notes, has taken stay-at-home measures seriously and its numbers reflect the actions taken by the government. The country has been under a state of emergency to tackle the spread of covid19 since March 18. Residential mobility was highest in The Bahamas at 19 per cent, and workplace mobility was down 52 per cent.