To help prevent players from leaving their homes to play Pokémon Go, and to ensure they don’t spread COVID-19, developer Niantic has made it so players no longer need to walk to unlock new battles in the Battle League. Previously, a player had to walk 5 kilometers to open a new series of battles, and 2 kilometers if they used a premium raid pass. Players can also send trainer battles to friends in the game who are classified as a good friend or a great friend status until May 1.
These changes have come to encourage players to not leave their homes during the coronavirus outbreak that has been spreading across the world. Many large gatherings have been shut down to prevent people from interacting with one another, to prevent them from spreading the virus. The goal is to flatten the curve for hospitals. Flattening the curve means that coronavirus patients come to hospitals over a more extended period, rather than having everyone get sick and go to a medical facility all at once. Hospitals have a finite amount of room to treat patients, and if everyone came at once, many would be turned away, despite if they needed help.
Players of Pokémon Go can expect more changes like this to come in the future. Pokémon Go was designed for players to wander around the world, capturing Pokémon, walking with their friends, and engaging in trainer battles against powerful raid Pokemon that required multiple trainers to work together to combat. Now, with everyone being encouraged to no longer meet up, Niantic must change how the game works for players who cannot leave their homes.
While the Battle League requirements are the most recent changes, we can expect to hear more about how raids, gyms, and how players visiting PokéStops for supplies will change moving forward. Hopefully, it only happens for a limited time, and when the world becomes a healthy place once more, we can walk around to play Pokémon Go again.