Social inequalities in mobility during and following the COVID-19 associated lockdown of the Madrid metropolitan area in Spain.

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Spain has been one of the most affected regions by the COVID-19 worldwide, and Madrid its most affected city. In response to this, the Spanish government enacted a strict lockdown in late March 2020, that was gradually eased until June 2020. We explored differentials in mobility by area-level deprivation in the functional area of Madrid, before, during, and after the COVID-19 lockdown. We used cell phone-derived mobility indicators (% of the population leaving their area) from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), and a composite measure of deprivation from the Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE). We computed changes in mobility with respect to pre-pandemic levels, and explored spatial patterns and associations with deprivation. We found that levels of mobility before COVID-19 were slightly higher in areas with lower deprivation. The economic hibernation period resulted in very strong declines in mobility, most acutely in low deprivation areas. These differences weakened during the re-opening, and levels of mobility were similar by deprivation once the lockdown was completely lifted. Given the existence of important socioeconomic differentials in COVID-19 exposure, it is key to ensure that these interventions do not widen existing social inequalities.

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Authors: Adrián Glodeanu, Pedro Gullón, Usama Bilal