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Movement plunged in the Sydney CBD, Brisbane CBD and Perth CBD as all three were placed into lockdown

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 CBDs of Sydney, Brisbane and Perth all plunging over the last week as all three were placed into lockdown to deal with the latest COVID-19 outbreaks in each city.

The average 7-day movement level in the Sydney CBD last week was at its lowest since the pandemic began more than a year ago at only 11% of pre-COVID-19 averages. This is a drop of 48% points since movement levels reached a 2021 high of 59% of pre-pandemic averages in the Easter holidays in early April.

There were also record low movement levels last week in both the Brisbane CBD, at only 23% of pre-pandemic averages, and Perth CBD at only 25%. The movement levels in Australia’s 3rd and 4th largest cities dropped rapidly after the respective Premiers announced snap lockdowns just over a week ago.

The average movement levels in the Melbourne CBD have increased by 10% points to 22% of pre-pandemic averages since the recent lockdown of the city with mandatory mask-wearing in offices and factories only ending this week on Friday July 9th. Despite this increase movement levels in the Melbourne CBD remain slightly below the averages in both the Brisbane and Perth CBDs.

Unsurprisingly movement levels are highest in the only two State Capital Cities to avoid recent lockdowns at 45% of pre-pandemic levels in the Adelaide CBD and at 40% 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 4, 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 latest vaccination figures from the Health Department show over 8.6 million vaccination doses have so far been administered to Australians covering around a third of the adult population. If herd immunity requires 80% of Australia’s 20 million adults to be vaccinated, we are still many months away from administering the 32 million vaccination doses required to reach this mark.

The events of the last few weeks with five Australian cities enduring lockdown of anywhere from a few days to three weeks comprehensively demonstrate that until a sizeable majority of Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19 there will remain the ongoing threat of snap border closures and restrictions as well as lockdowns being enforced to get on top of any viral outbreaks.

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 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 outbreaks of COVID-19 in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth forced city-wide lockdowns in all three cities last week and sent the movement of people in the respective Capital City CBDs plunging to record lows:

“We are now well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic but despite a successful handling of the virus by Australian leaders so far this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over by any stretch.

“Over the last month five Australian Capital City CBDs have endured city-wide lockdowns ranging from four days (Brisbane & Perth) up to at least three weeks (the recently extended Sydney lockdown).

“The recent lockdowns have sent the movement of people in the respective Capital City CBDs plunging to record lows of only 11% of pre-pandemic levels in the Sydney CBD, 23% in the Brisbane CBD and 25% in the Perth CBD. These are all lower levels of movement than reached during any stage of the nation-wide lockdown in the first half of 2020. There is good news for the Melbourne CBD with average movement levels up 10% points from the city’s recent lockdown to 22% of pre-pandemic averages.

“Although the last few weeks might have seemed like nothing much has changed from a year ago the continuing roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines is a quantitative difference. The roll-out has been criticised by many as lagging comparable countries overseas however there have now been over 8.5 million vaccine doses administered to nearly a third of all adult Australians.

“In the critical age groups over 70% of Australians aged 70+ have received a vaccine dose and over 50% of Australians aged 50+ have received a vaccine dose. However, the slow rate of the rollout is readily apparent when one considers only 10% of Australians have now been fully vaccinated by receiving their second vaccine dose.

“The low rate of vaccination is unfortunately set to contribute to continuing uncertainty regarding potential lockdowns, border closures and additional restrictions. The Victorian Government’s decision this week to cancel the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix set for mid-November shows Governments are expecting ‘more of the same’ over the next few months.

“Until a large majority of around 80% of Australian adults are vaccinated against COVID-19 we are at a continuing risk of drastic measures being taken that provide a huge hit to businesses attempting to recover from the pandemic without the level of support provided during 2020.”

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 |