In contrast, in France, the United States, Spain and Japan, the recovery has stalled with a number of visits that is still below the baseline. Interestingly, we don’t see yet any changes in data related to mobility in France and in Spain where additional restrictions have just been re-introduced to cope with the second wave of the pandemic, but this may be due to a lag between data collection and data publication. For instance, in France, most of the measures were put into force over the weekend, with the closure of schools, shops, pubs and restaurants in the metropolitan region between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille (France’s second largest city).
At the other end of the spectrum, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom has already seriously affected mobility. The visits to retails & recreation stores are now down 15.5% compared to the baseline, which represents a drop of about two points in just five days. Given a fairly similar heath situation in the United Kingdom, Spain and France, it is likely we will also see a decline in mobility in the coming days in these last two countries.
Meanwhile, on the emerging market front, normalization slowly continues, with mobility being back to pre-COVID level only in Taiwan. However, there is still a long road ahead for India, where the risk of new state lockdowns is looming, especially in the populated area of Kerala, and Mexico, where the pandemic is definitively not under control with a total number of cases reaching 730,317, including 76,430 fatalities as of yesterday. Mobility is respectively 32% and 19% below the baseline in India and in Mexico according to the latest update of the COVID-19 Community Mobility Report.
In the below chart, we also see that mobility has been curtailed from mid-August in South Korea, which reflects the implementation of further business restrictions, especially on eateries, franchised coffee chains and other retail stores in the densely populated capital area. However, mobility is expected to increase again in coming weeks as the country has just recently decided not to prolong these measures. What we can learn from the situation in South Korea is that normalization in economic activity won’t be a smooth journey, but will rather consist in moving through stop-and-go with re-introduction, here and there, of localized and sector based restrictions depending on the spread of the virus. It will further increase constraints on economic activity and ultimately put at risk the very fragile recovery that has started since the global lockdown was lifted. We fear that for many countries this situation will translate into a new drop in activity in Q4 this year, notably in France where we are currently staying and where we see a growing number of the population and even the local elite challenging how the government is handling the crisis.