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Why ghost-town Melbourne lags rest of the country in getting people back to filling office space

Why ghost town Melbourne is lagging behind the rest of the country in getting people back to their offices – as Daniel Andrews refuses to order officials to end working from home

  • Melbourne office occupancy rates fell in July as the employee worked from home
  • They fell from 49 to 38 percent compared to other dips in major cities
  • Sydney cut 55 to 52 percent, Brisbane 64 to 53 percent, Adelaide 71 to 64
  • Canberra and Perth showed the only increases in capacity utilization in July
  • The Council called on policymakers not to take their foot off the pedal

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Melbourne is lagging significantly behind the rest of the country in getting workers back in the CBD after the Covid lockdowns, with less than 40 percent of available office space being rented out in July.

The city’s office occupancy rate fell 11 points from 49 to 38 percent last month as a result of a brief flare-up of the latest Covid strain pushing people back to work from home mode, a report from Property Council Australia revealed.

The report showed that Melbourne’s occupancy rate was by far the lowest of any state capital.

The lack of office workers is having a devastating impact on city shops and eateries, leading to calls for the Andrews government to send officials back to offices as Covid cases plummet.

The government is urging workers to return to offices at least three days a week, but few believe this is happening in a dead quiet CBD.

Critics call the lease figures a “wake-up call,” adding, “we can’t take our foot off the pedal when it comes to CBD recovery.”

Melbourne office occupancy rate fell 11 points from 49 to 38 percent last month, a report said (pictured, stock photo)

Melbourne office occupancy rate fell 11 points from 49 to 38 percent last month, a report said (pictured, stock photo)

The survey came as most other cities in the country dropped their office occupancy rates in July - but not as low as Melbourne (pictured)

The survey came as most other cities in the country dropped their office occupancy rates in July - but not as low as Melbourne (pictured)

The survey came as most other cities in the country dropped their office occupancy rates in July – but not as low as Melbourne (pictured)

The survey came as most other cities in the country dropped their office occupancy rates in July, but not as low as Melbourne.

Sydney’s occupancy rate fell from 55 to 52 percent, Brisbane from 64 to 53 percent and Adelaide from 71 to 64 percent.

The report revealed that Canberra and Perth were the only markets to see an increase in office occupancy, from 53 percent to 61 percent and 65 percent to 71 percent, respectively.

But it is a huge setback for Melbourne as the Council calls on the city to end its ‘hibernation’.

Acting Victorian Executive Director of the Property Council, Adina Cirson, said these figures came from a ‘perfect storm’ of deterrents for businesses to resume in the city, including the hysteria over COVID-19 a bad flu season caused by Covid lockdowns triggering less robust immune responses, and the chilly weather in Melbourne.

While Melbourne has seen a steady increase in office occupancy in the first half of the year, it is clear that we face serious challenges when it comes to encouraging workers to come back to the city,” said Ms Cirson.

She added that the state government’s work-from-home policy also got in the way.

“Government advice on working from home, particularly internal policies for public service colleagues, has severely dampened any momentum for a broader return to the office,” Ms Cirson said.

“These numbers should wake up our policymakers and business leaders that we can’t take our foot off the pedal when it comes to CBD recovery.”

She added that there should be “bold messages” to attract workers back to the office as soon as health advice permits.

Daily Mail Australia contacted the Victorian government for comment.

A Property Council chart shows Melbourne at the bottom of the scale (pictured)

A Property Council chart shows Melbourne at the bottom of the scale (pictured)

A Property Council chart shows Melbourne at the bottom of the scale (pictured)

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