The latest Social Activity Measure report compiled by the ESRI to assist Government decision making about opening of certain parts of the economy has revealed that mobility and social activity increased further over recent weeks. 

The proportion of people making journeys outside of their homes continued to rise especially visits to other homes as well as the use of take-away restaurants, cafes and pubs. 

There was also a steady rise in visits to shops although a substantial increase in outdoor activity during February levelled off in the most recent two-week period. 

The survey also found people met with more individuals from outside their household with the number of close contacts with people from other households averaging 2.23 people in the week ending 8 March, up from 1.89 people two weeks earlier.

The ESRI said that these changes in figures may not appear large, but they translate into hundreds of thousands of additional social contacts and this change in behaviour coincides with the stalling of the downward trend in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. 

The most substantive change was in social visits to homes. 

The survey revealed that almost a quarter of the population either had a visitor to their home or visited another home the day before the study. 

Almost half of those visits were purely social in nature. 

Most visits involved time indoors, with the visitor not wearing a mask, and visits frequently lasting more than one hour.

The ESRI said the minority who engaged in these social visits is spread across socio-demographic groups.

The study, which is updated every fortnight, also found that there is a cyclical pattern to close contacts and social visits across the days of the week, with riskier behaviour increasing towards the end of the week.