Traffic goes down, delivery goes up in Covid-19 São Paulo

. Mar 31, 2020
Traffic goes down, delivery goes up in Covid-19 São Paulo Avenida Paulista, Monday morning. Photo: Roberto Parizotti/FP

A viral video on social media shows amazing drone footage from São Paulo’s city center on March 29, 2020. Unlike a normal Sunday, when places such as Avenida Paulista or the Minhocão overpass are filled with thousands of pedestrians, cyclists, or street performers, the video shows a truly deserted city. These scenes reminiscent of a zombie movie showed that São Paulo, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, has stopped after one week of quarantine. No traffic whatsoever … or almost anyone, for that matter.

São Paulo

is known for its chaotic roads. A recent study shows that residents lost, on average, 23 minutes on traffic jams every day between 2016 and 2018, with <a href=",viagens-de-carro-na-grande-sp-demoram-35-mais-do-que-o-previsto-mostra-pesquisa-da-fipe-e-uber,70002802308">commutes by car lasting 35 percent longer</a> than expected.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1739595"><script src=""></script></div> <p>Between March 8 and March 29, traffic congestion fell by 72 percent in the São Paulo metropolitan area — and 58 percent in the country as a whole — as compared to a regular week, using March 1 to 7 as a baseline. The data comes from a collaborative study between the Inter-American Development Bank and Waze for Cities, a platform by Israeli navigation app Waze.</p> <p>The data allows us to draw two conclusions: (1) containment measures are effectively being put forward in Latin America and in Brazilian states — despite President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s insistence in denying the severity of the Covid-19 crisis; and (2) the region will observe a massive economic slowdown.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1739549"><script src=""></script></div> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1748075" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <h2>Demand for delivery services rockets</h2> <p>With fewer ventures outside per week, Brazilians have turned to delivery services to cater to their needs. Numbers from Google Trends show that interest in terms such as &#8220;streaming&#8221; or &#8220;delivery&#8221; has skyrocketed in recent weeks, as has &#8220;remote work&#8221; or &#8220;workout at home.&#8221;</p> <p>As we reported in our <a href="">March 20 Tech Roundup</a>, the crisis has already hit e-commerce, with the biggest supermarket chains in Brazil being unable to send out certain goods and offering long delays for the delivery of groceries.&nbsp;</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1748345" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <p>Overburdened with orders, supermarket chains are asking customers to “be sympathetic with others and purchase only enough for [their] family.” They have also warned customers that delivery deadlines could be delayed. Wholesaler chain Makro informed it no longer has available time slots for delivery.</p> <p>Still, supermarket chain Pão de Açúcar — controlled by French group Casino — has offered free membership on its premium delivery service for customers in high-risk groups, instead of the regular BRL 19.90 monthly fee (less than USD 4).</p> <h2>Workers&#8217; safety</h2> <p>On March 18, Brazil&#8217;s Labor Prosecution Office issued a technical note determining that companies that transport goods and people must provide their staff with safety equipment against Covid-19 contamination, including &#8220;spaces for vehicle sanitization.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <p>The rule, however, has been flatly ignored by many employers, according to the Union of Couriers and Motorcycle Delivery Drivers of São Paulo. One courier, who spoke with <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> on Facebook and asked not to be named, said his employer at no time offered guidance nor equipment for drivers to protect themselves while doing dozens of deliveries every day.</p> <p>As we reported on March 22, <a href="">remote work is simply not an option</a> for millions of Brazilians who rely on themselves alone for their livelihoods.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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