Back To Listing

Movement of people in Brisbane and Perth CBDs rebounds after recent lockdowns while Sydney and Melbourne CBDs lag well behind

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 Brisbane and Perth CBDs rebounding after recent lockdowns in early July while movement plunged in the Melbourne CBD as the city entered its fifth lockdown.

The average 7-day movement level in the Brisbane CBD was at 35% of pre-pandemic averages, up 13% points from a low of 22% in early July, while in the Perth CBD movement levels rebounded even more strongly to be at 41%, up 17% points from the low of 24% during Perth’s most recent lockdown three weeks ago.

In contrast the extended lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne have forced movement in the two cities towards record lows. In the Sydney CBD the average movement level has remained at only 10% of pre-pandemic levels all of last week while in the Melbourne CBD the average movement level dropped to 16% of pre-pandemic levels after the city entered its fifth lockdown on Friday July 16th.

The Adelaide CBD again came out on top for the 168th day in a row with the highest average movement levels at 43% of pre-pandemic levels but these figures were compiled before the city went into its third hard lockdown on Wednesday last week following an outbreak of COVID-19 sparked by a returned traveller.

Hobart is now the only State Capital City to avoid a lockdown this year but despite this good record at managing COVID-19 average movement levels in the Hobart CBD were at only 36% of pre-pandemic levels last week after the island State closed its borders to nearest neighbour Victoria which provides the largest share of visitors to Tasmania.

Australian Capital City CBDs average 7-day movement levels March 1, 2020 – July 18, 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 lockdowns over the past week in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide cover more than 14 million Australians and illustrate again how quickly circumstances can change even 18 months into the pandemic. The lockdowns when juxtaposed against the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ just celebrated in the UK demonstrate how important it is for a return to ‘normality’ that a large majority of Australians are vaccinated.

The latest vaccination figures from the Health Department show over 11.4 million vaccination doses have so far been administered to nearly 40% of the adult population. If herd immunity requires 80% of Australia’s 20.6 million adults to be fully vaccinated, we are just over a third of the way to administering the 33 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 news over the last week hasn’t been good for Australians who would like to see the back of COVID-19 with lockdowns continuing in Sydney and Melbourne and Adelaide plunged into its first lockdown since November 2020:

“The last two weeks have been tough for Australians with more than half the country, over 14 million people in Victoria, Greater Sydney and South Australia, forced into lockdown.

“Australia’s handling of COVID-19 over the last 18 months has been widely lauded, and rightly so, but the circumstances that have led to these lockdowns are intensely frustrating.

“The current outbreaks began with an unmasked airport limousine driver transporting a foreign aircrew seeding the virus into Sydney and two weeks later a trio of removalists from Sydney then brought the virus to Melbourne. Because of these two events over 10 million people spread across Sydney and Melbourne were locked down and millions of people in the two cities are once again in the ‘working from home’ mode.

“For Melburnians this is the second winter in a row in lockdown and the highly contagious nature of the ‘Delta variant’ is on full display in Sydney at the moment with the city set to remain in lockdown for many more weeks, or perhaps even months.

“These lockdowns of over half the population do significant damage to the economic recovery that was powering along in the first half of 2021. Consultancy KPMG estimated the cost of the current lockdowns in Sydney and Victoria could be nearly $400 million per day.

“The damage is apparent to both cities with average movement levels in the Sydney CBD stuck at only 10% of pre-pandemic levels and in Melbourne’s fifth lockdown average movement levels in the CBD plunged to only 16% of their pre-pandemic level.

“There is at least good news in Australia’s third and fourth largest cities with strong rebounds in average movement in both the Perth CBD, up 17% points to 41%, and the Brisbane CBD, up 13% points to 35% of the pre-pandemic average after both cities locked down in early July.

“The strong leadership of the Queensland Premier has also been rewarded on the sporting front as despite the ravages of COVID-19 congratulations must be paid to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who has led the effort which has secured the Olympic Games of 2032 for Brisbane.”

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 |