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Movement of people in the locked down Sydney and Melbourne CBDs is far below other cities in mid-July

Source: Roy Morgan collaboration with UberMedia who provide anonymous aggregated insights using mobile location data. Note: Movement data for the Capital City CBDs excludes the residents of the respective CBDs.

A special analysis of movement data in Australia’s Capital City CBDs since the COVID-19 pandemic began shows movement in the Sydney CBD was at only 10% of the pre-pandemic average last week while it was not much better in the Melbourne CBD even before that city’s fifth lockdown started.

The average 7-day movement level in the Sydney CBD last week hit a record low of only 10% of pre-COVID-19 averages as the city’s lockdown was extended for at least two more weeks until the end of July.

Last week, before the current five-day lockdown was imposed on Victoria on Friday July 16th, the average movement levels in the Melbourne CBD had recovered to only 23% of pre-pandemic averages. Although Melbourne’s fourth lockdown ended in early June there was still mandatory mask wearing in offices and factories throughout the month of June and this restriction was only lifted a week before the new lockdown.

The movement levels are recovering quickly in Australia’s third and fourth largest cities which were locked down in late June/ early July. Movement in the Brisbane CBD was at 33% of pre-pandemic averages last week, up 11% points in a week and the Perth CBD was at 37%, up 13% points from the early July low-point.

Unsurprisingly movement levels are highest in the only two State Capital Cities to avoid recent lockdowns – at 44% of pre-pandemic levels in the Adelaide CBD and at 39% in the Hobart CBD last week. South Australians can take pride that their city has been the ‘closest to normal’ of all Capital Cities for over five months now with average movement levels not dropping below 40% of pre-pandemic averages this year.

Australian Capital City CBDs average 7-day movement levels March 1, 2020 – July 12, 2021:
% Movement is compared to the 7-day average in Jan-Feb 2020

Source: Roy Morgan collaboration with UberMedia who provide anonymous aggregated insights using mobile location data. Note: Movement data for the Capital City CBDs excludes the residents of the respective CBDs.

The events of the last few weeks show just how quickly circumstances can change even 18 months into the pandemic. In this month alone five Australian cities have experienced a lockdown and now nearly half of Australia’s population is locked down in either Victoria (6.7 million) or Greater Sydney (5.3 million) due to outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

The latest vaccination figures from the Health Department show over 10 million vaccination doses have so far been administered to just over a third of the adult population. If herd immunity requires 80% of Australia’s 20 million adults to be fully vaccinated, we are less than a third of the way to administering the 32 million vaccination doses required to reach this mark.

Roy Morgan has partnered with leading technology innovator UberMedia to aggregate data from tens of thousands of mobile devices to assess the movements of Australians as we deal with the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interactive dashboard available on the website tracks the movement data for those visiting the Capital City CBDs during 2020 and 2021, excluding the CBD residents of each city. Movement data from several key locations around Australia is also available to view by using the interactive dashboard.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, says the current lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne show there is still a long way to go before we enter a period of ‘COVID-normal’ with only a third of Australian adults so far having received at least one vaccine dose:

“The lockdown of Greater Sydney over the last few weeks has seen average movement levels in the Sydney CBD plunge to only 10% of pre-pandemic levels last week – a lower level of movement than has been seen at any stage during Melbourne’s several lockdowns.

“However, even before entering its fifth lockdown last Friday (July 16) average movement levels in the Melbourne CBD were at only 23% of pre-pandemic averages having only slowly recovered from the city’s fourth lockdown which ended in mid-June.

“The lockdowns of Australia’s two largest cities due to outbreaks of the contagious Delta variant, while overseas counterparts such as the UK and USA are opening up, perfectly demonstrates the importance of vaccinating a large proportion of the population.

The latest figures on vaccination levels in the UK show that over two-thirds of adults (66.7%) have received two vaccine doses while over 87% have received at least one vaccine dose. This level of vaccination in the UK is enough for all internal restrictions to be ended with today, Monday July 19, dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.

“The good news is that the delivery of Pfizer vaccine doses to Australia is finally ramping up with 1 million Pfizer vaccine doses arriving over the weekend. The delivery schedule of 1 million Pfizer vaccine doses being delivered per week is set to continue over the coming months with 40 million doses due in Australia before the end of the year.

“The recommendation that Australians under 60 years of age should take the Pfizer vaccine means we can’t reach a high level of vaccination like the UK until the Pfizer vaccines are delivered and then administered over the next few months.

“Although so-called ‘herd immunity’ is still a few months away there is some good news with more vulnerable sectors of the population vaccinated at much higher rates than the wider population. As of today, over 75% of Australians aged 70+ have received a vaccine dose and nearly 60% of people aged 50+ have received at least their first vaccine dose.”

View the latest Roy Morgan UberMedia movement data for Australian Capital City CBDs including the Melbourne CBD, Sydney CBD, Perth CBD, Adelaide CBD and Hobart CBD here.


Michele Levine – direct: 03 9224 5215 | mobile: 0411 129 093 |