Roy Morgan Research
June 08, 2021

Movement in the Melbourne CBD plunges to below 20% of pre-COVID averages as the city experiences a fourth lockdown

Topic: Press Release, Special Poll
Finding No: 8724
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A special analysis of movement data in Australia’s Capital City CBDs since the COVID-19 pandemic began shows a plunge in movement in the Melbourne CBD in late May after the city entered a fourth lockdown on Friday May 28.

The average 7-day movement level in the Melbourne CBD was at only 19% of pre-COVID-19 averages at the end of May, around half the movement level in the Sydney CBD (38%). This is the first time average 7-day movement levels in the Melbourne CBD have plunged below 20% since the short five-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Victoria from February 13-17, 2021.

Movement levels have declined in other Capital City CBDs during May despite no significant outbreaks or lockdowns in other cities since a three-day lockdown in Greater Perth in late April.

Looking around Australia the Adelaide CBD is again the stand-out with movement levels sitting at 65% of pre-COVID averages in late May ahead of the Perth CBD (59%). Movement levels in the Brisbane CBD (52%) and Hobart CBD (49%) are at around half of their pre-COVID-19 averages.

The latest vaccination figures from the Health Department show over 5 million vaccination doses have so far been administered to Australians covering around a fifth of the 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.

Australian Capital City CBDs average 7-day movement levels March 1, 2020 – May 31, 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.

Until a sizeable majority of Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19 there will remain the ongoing threat of lockdowns and border closures being enforced to get on top of any viral outbreaks – as we have seen over the last two weeks in Victoria.

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 current lockdown in Victoria has again sent Melburnians into ‘work from home’ mode and cleared out the city with average movement in the Melbourne CBD plunging below 20% of pre-COVID levels:

“Melburnians are currently enduring their fourth lockdown in the last 15 months with the city’s five million residents given only five reasons to leave the house since the lockdown began in late May.

“The latest lockdown has sent average movement levels in the Melbourne CBD plunging to below 20% of their pre-COVID levels for the first time since the city’s short lockdown in mid-February. 

“The difference this time around is that the $89 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy ended more than two months ago and the financial support available to businesses and employees isn’t at the same level as previously. This reality is amplifying the impact of this lockdown on businesses that have been forced to close and their employees who have been prevented from working through no fault of their own.

“Melbourne’s fourth lockdown has highlighted several continuing weaknesses in Australia’s management of COVID-19 such as the hotel quarantine facilities, the rollout of the vaccination to vulnerable Australians – including in aged care, and the reliability of contact tracing in containing an outbreak of the virus.

“Until a large majority of Australians, generally speculated at 70-80% of the population, are vaccinated against COVID-19 there is an ever-present risk of more snap lockdowns and border closures wreaking havoc on the best laid plans of businesses and consumers alike.

“The best result from the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne will be if vaccinations are accelerated, hotel quarantine facilities are improved and Australians are provided with a clear road-map for what benchmarks need to be met to ensure lockdowns become unnecessary, domestic borders can remain open and the international border can be re-opened.”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 |

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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