COVID taking huge toll on Australia’s CBDs
16 September 2020
City businesses under long-term pressure as workers continue to stay at home.
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to hit Sydney's central business district with a $10 billion blow as thousands of employees continue to work from home.
SGS Economics and Planning economist Terry Rawnsley told the Sydney Morning Herald that the direct cost of pandemic restrictions, which forced employees to work from home, could cost the CBD $7 billion. Much of that will be felt by hospitality services, the arts and retail.
In addition, the lack of interaction between employees in sectors such as finance, professional services, IT, marketing and media - who gathered in the CBD on a daily basis before the pandemic - will take an additional $3 billion toll on productivity.
Data from research firm Roy Morgan and Uber showed that in July, Sydney’s CBD had half the people travelling within it compared to February. Even in Perth, which has seen relatively few COVID-19 cases, CBD foot fall is only at 75 per cent normal levels.
This has led to calls for mandatory masks to be worn on public transport to encourage workers to return to their offices.
Griffith University urban and environmental planner Dr Tony Matthews told news.com.au that while the full data was not yet in, there was increasing evidence of a “mass exodus” from CBDs with many workers reluctant to return.