Maps show how Sydney beat Melbourne in key lockdown rule

Sydney’s lockdown may have copped criticism for being too little too late but new research suggests the stay-at-home orders were taken seriously.

Analysis from analytics firm DSpark Australia, which compared mobility rates between Sydney and Melbourne, has revealed movement in the Harbour city dropped more dramatically, despite Victoria’s harder and faster approach.

People are seen exercising at the Bay Run in Sydney, Saturday, August 14, 2021. Greater Sydney and surrounding regions are in lockdown until at least August 28 and the NSW Hunter will be locked down for a week as health authorities battle to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta strain. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING
New data has revealed movement during Sydney's lockdown dropped more dramatically compared to Melbourne. Source: AAP

It comes as Victoria recorded 1890 new locally acquired cases on Sunday - agonisingly close to an alarming milestone of 2,000 daily injection which has never been reached by any state or territory.

Meanwhile, NSW reported a big drop, with case numbers falling to 477 on the eve of the state’s “Freedom Day”.

Maps show big differences between cities

The data represented in maps, with the darker shades representing less movement, shows how Sydneysiders bunkered down at a greater rate with far fewer people travelling across the city.

During week six of each lockdown, shades across Melbourne are noticeably lighter compared to Sydney.

Two maps compare Sydney and Melbourne's mobility during week six of lockdown. The darker the shade, the lesser the movement. Picture: DSpark.
Two maps compare Sydney and Melbourne's mobility during week six of lockdown. The darker the shade, the lesser the movement. Picture: DSpark.

“If you compare Sydney to Melbourne there’s definitely differences in compliance in terms of that radius of travel,” Paul Rybicki, country head at analytics firm DSpark Australia, told

“You could argue that Sydney actually battened down the hatches more than other cities”.

DSpark worked with various state government agencies and used a range of measures including anonymous mobile phone movement to gather the data.

According to, movement sank in Sydney as the lockdown lingered on.

By late July - week five of Sydney’s lockdown - weekday mobility further than 10kms was down to its lowest point of 51 per cent.

But movement never dropped this low in Melbourne, where mobility dropped to only 27 per cent in late August - week three of lockdown six - and never fell any further.

A person wearing a face mask is seen in Melbourne, Sunday, August 29, 2021. Victoria has recorded 92 new cases of locally acquired Covid19 in the past 24 hours. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING
The mobility rate in Melbourne never dropped below 27 per cent according to the data. Source: AAP

Mr Rybicki added that the data only revealed travel, not the reason for moving or any insight into transmission.

“I don’t know whether they were more essential workers or whether the public health orders were different in those states in terms of who can and can’t travel,” he told

“That needs to be taken into consideration before you jump to a conclusion to say it’s a compliance thing,” he said.

“But it is the observations that we see.”

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