Seismic ambient noise with frequencies > 1 Hz includes noise related to human activities. A reduction in seismic noise during the COVID-19 pandemic has been observed worldwide, as restrictions were imposed to control outbreaks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In this context, we studied the effect of changes in anthropogenic activities during COVID-19 on the seismic noise levels in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Japan, considering time of day, day of the week, and seasonal changes. The results showed the largest reduction in noise levels during the first state of emergency under most conditions. After the first state of emergency was lifted, the daytime noise reverted to previous levels immediately on weekdays and gradually on Sundays. This was likely because economic activities instantly resumed, while non-essential outings on Sundays were still mostly avoided. Furthermore, the daytime noise level on Sundays was strongly reduced regardless of changes on weekdays after the second state of emergency, which restricted activities mainly at night. Sunday noise levels gradually increased from the middle of the second state of emergency, suggesting a gradual reduction in public concern about COVID-19 following a decrease in the number of infections. Our findings demonstrate that seismic noise can be used to monitor social activities.
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