Urban Stud 60 (8) 1448-1464 [2023-06-00; online 2022-02-01]
During the COVID-19 pandemic, physical distancing, mobility restrictions and self-isolation measures were implemented around the world as the primary intervention to prevent the virus from spreading. Urban life has undergone sweeping changes, with people using spaces in new ways. Stockholm is a particularly relevant case of this phenomenon since most facilities, such as day care centres and schools, have remained open, in contrast to cities with a broader lockdown. In this study, we use Twitter data and an online map survey to study how COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the use of different locations, services and amenities in Stockholm. First, we compare the spatial distribution of 87,000 geolocated tweets pre-COVID-19 and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, we analyse 895 survey responses asking people to identify places they 'still visit', 'use more', 'avoid' and self-report reasons for using locations. The survey provides a nuanced understanding of whether and how restrictions have affected people. Service and seclusion were found to be important; therefore, the accessibility of such amenities was analysed, demonstrating how changes in urban habits are related to conditions of the local environment. We find how different parts of the city show different capacities to accommodate new habits and mitigate the effects of restrictions on people's use of urban spaces. In addition to the immediate relevance to COVID-19, this paper thus contributes to understanding how restrictions on movement and gathering, in any situation, expose more profound urban challenges related to segregation and social inequality.