Property Council calls for action in Sydney CBD recovery summit

The Property Council of Australia has called on the NSW Government to remove several key restrictions in order to speed up CBD recovery throughout the state at this mornings Sydney CBD Summit. 

NSW Deputy Executive Director Lauren Conceicao said the summit was an opportunity to sit down with government and converse ideas to kick start the Sydney CBD and get our global city back its famous buzz. 

“Following on from the most recent lockdowns and the Omicron wave we can all agree the repair required for our CBD has never been greater nor more important,” Ms Conceicao said. 

“But it’s not all doom and gloom, we know the removal of several key restrictions will have an instant positive impact and the sooner they are removed the faster we can recover. 

“The first being the removal of mask mandates inside the office. 

“The compulsory wearing of masks from 9am to 5pm is not an example of living with the virus. It is a proxy to avoid the office, and the CBDs for that matter – not only Sydney but Parramatta, Liverpool, Newcastle and Wollongong.”

Ms Conceicao said masks in the office were applicable with low vaccination rates and surging case numbers, but the health order always had a use by date once we reached high vaccination rates. 

“With our double vaccination rates around 95 per cent some of the highest in the world, many citizens opting to take the booster and case numbers settling by the day, we can safely say that use by date is now,” she said.  

“To be clear this does not mean throwing caution to the wind.  Employers have invested significantly into making their workspaces COVID-safe not only including spatial requirements but also ventilation flows.”

Ms Conceicao said the second was to end the work from home advice and COVID restrictions. 

“At this point in time, we can drink in a bar, eat in a restaurant, workout in a gym and go watch live sport in a stadium all with thousands of strangers,” she said. 

“Yet we are discouraged to collaborate in COVID-safe offices with the same friends and colleagues. 

“And in just over a week, we will welcome international travelers from around the world after losing $3 million a day from closures.

“Until March they will be made to sign into venues via QR code, banned from dancing and singing and required to wear masks inside. 

“We must think carefully about the impression of those first arrivals, many of whom are highly skilled migrants who recognise Sydney as the best place to live, work and play. 

“Is the first impression we want for our visitors to be sitting in offices wearing a face coverings some two years after the first case of COVID was detected on Australian shores?

Ms Conceicao said the third was recapturing the energy and spirit of the Sydney CBD. 

“After two years hardship and sacrifice, we must put aside our COVID fears and rediscover the magic our cities have to offer,” she said. 

“The NSW Government must lead from the front with a communications campaign to showcase our CBDs are safe, build confidence in workers and communicate all of the activations that have been supported across state government agencies and local governments. 

“No doubt at today’s Summit there will be creative juices flowing to this end with ideas on how to revitalise our public spaces, festivals, events and arts.

“But this will be in vain if not supported by strong commitment to get workers back into CBDs, the blood needed in the arteries of our cities.

“The fourth and final recommendation for the NSW Government in light of the summit is to fully commit to bringing back public servants which we welcomed yesterday.

“This recalling of the public sector to their office will bolster the workforce presence particularly in Sydney and Parramatta.

“The return to office being backed by a commitment to lead with the return of the public sector workforce will help drive critical mass in the office and get foot traffic back in our CBDs. 

“We’ve seen Local Governments such as the City of Sydney make this commitment with their workforce, with a return of three days per week. So we welcome the State and Commonwealth Governments following suit.

"Governments keep reminding us they want to see businesses recover, that time is now, so let’s get to work.”

 Media:  Aidan Green | E: [email protected]