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Movement in the Sydney CBD at only 17% of pre-pandemic levels before Greater Sydney prepared to leave 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 Sydney CBD, and Melbourne CBD, was at only 17% of pre-pandemic levels in early October, just before the lockdown of Greater Sydney was set to end.

The average 7-day movement level in the Sydney CBD hit a low of 8% of pre-pandemic levels in late July and have slowly increased since then as restrictions have been eased as vaccination rates have increased rapidly. Late last week NSW hit a mark of 70% of the population aged 16+ being fully vaccinated which is the mark that was set for the ending of the lockdown of Greater Sydney this week.

Average movement levels in the Melbourne CBD have tracked closely with those in the Sydney CBD over the last two months since Greater Melbourne entered its record sixth lockdown in early August. However, full vaccination rates in Victoria are at under 60%, well behind those in NSW, and Greater Melbourne is not set to end its current lockdown until the last week of October.

The movement levels in other Capital City CBDs have increased over the last few weeks as Australia emerged from Winter. Once again it is the Adelaide CBD which has average movement levels closest to pre-pandemic ‘normal’ at 74% just ahead of the Perth CBD at 73% of pre-pandemic averages. Notably, this is the highest level of movement in the Perth CBD for nearly six months.

Australian Capital City CBDs average 7-day movement levels March 1, 2020 – October 3, 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 30 million vaccination doses have now been administered to 82% of the adult population. The figures show that over 60% of Australian adults are now fully vaccinated including over 70% of the adult population in NSW and the ACT.

Both NSW and the ACT will soon reach the target of 80% of the adult population being fully vaccinated while Tasmania and Victoria are set to reach this mark in early November. However, for other States such as Queensland, WA and SA, there is no guarantee the vaccination targets will be reached this year which could lead to their borders remaining closed throughout the Christmas period unless policies are changed.

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 end of the Greater Sydney lockdown after over 100 days gives hope that Australia is finally on track towards ‘COVID-normal’ with a highly vaccinated population set to lead to the re-opening of domestic and international borders:

“Vaccination rates in Australia have increased rapidly over the last two months while over 15 million Australians in NSW, Victoria and the ACT have been in lockdown. The quick uptake of vaccines during this period means over 90% of adults in NSW and the ACT, and over 85% of adults in Victoria, have had at least one vaccine shot.

“These high rates of vaccination are behind the re-opening of Greater Sydney this week and the re-opening of Canberra set for later this week with over 70% of adults in both cities now fully vaccinated.

“Over the weekend Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the bringing forward of international travel for people in NSW to be available when over 80% of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated. This mark is projected to be achieved next week and in early November it may well be easier for someone from Sydney to travel to London or Los Angeles than Perth or Brisbane.

“Clearly the success, or otherwise, of the re-opening of Greater Sydney will have a big impact on the re-opening of Melbourne later in October as well as the full re-opening of domestic borders for States such as Queensland, WA, SA and Tasmania.

“Some States, notably Queensland, WA and Tasmania, have suggested they will not fully re-open their borders until 90% of their adult populations are fully vaccinated. At current rates that level of vaccination is unlikely to occur until early 2022 in States such as Queensland and WA.

“However, the Federal Government is counting on the freedom to travel internationally from Sydney in the next month putting pressure on other States to accelerate their plans to fully re-open their economies and borders as part of a transition to ‘COVID-normal’.

“The ending of restrictions, including lockdowns, closed borders and mandatory mask-wearing are all key factors in increasing the return of people to the CBDs of Australia’s Capital Cities – and particularly the Sydney and Melbourne CBDs.

“Over the next few months we will continue to closely track the level of movement in Australia’s Capital City CBDs including whether movement in a re-opened Sydney CBD can bridge the gap with counterparts in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart currently free of COVID-19.”

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 |