Background: As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency on April 7, 2020 for seven prefectures, and on April 16, 2020 for all prefectures. The Japanese Prime Minister and governors requested people to adopt self-restraint behaviors, including working from home and refraining from visiting nightlife spots. However, the effectiveness of the mobility change due to such requests in reducing the spread of COVID-19 has been little investigated. The present study examined the association of the mobility change in working, nightlife, and residential places and the COVID-19 outbreaks in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya metropolitan areas in Japan.
Methods: First, we calculated the daily mobility change in working, nightlife, and residential places compared to the mobility before the outbreak using mobile device data. Second, we estimated the sensitivity of mobility changes to the reproduction number by generalized least squares.
Results: Mobility change had already started in March, 2020. However, mobility reduction in nightlife places was particularly significant due to the state of emergency declaration. Although the mobility in each place type was associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the mobility changes in nightlife places were more significantly associated with the outbreak than those in the other place types. There were regional differences in intensity of sensitivity among each metropolitan area.
Conclusions: Our findings indicated the effectiveness of the mobility changes, particularly in nightlife places, in reducing the outbreak of COVID-19.