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It's a stroll not a scoot: Brisbane workers start the march back to the office

Business

Office workers are finally starting to head back to the office, boosting the hopes of retailers and building owners.

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The latest Property Council survey showed office occupancy in the central business district was at 41 per cent in February, well up on January’s 13 per cent.

However, the council said that was still well down on the pre-Covid levels of between 60 per cent and 70 per cent and last week’s flooding delayed the return even more.

The disaster has promoted Brisbane City Council to keep its on-street parking meters turned off until the end of March as a means of enticing people in the CBD.

The property council has also kicked off a promotional campaign offering $40,000 in prizes like free beer and free parking.

But the council’s Queensland executive director Jen Williams said the result of the survey was done in the last week of February, which included the first days of the flooding event.

“There is no doubting January was an extremely quiet time for the city centre. However, from February 7, when the Government’s work-from-home recommendation was lifted, the city felt busier and there were many more people working, shopping and dining in the CBD,” Williams said.

“With the peak of the pandemic passing and a range of positive announcements from both Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government, the city was tracking well to reach pre-Omicron levels of activity.

“Unfortunately, along with broader impacts on the community and the economy, last week’s extreme weather events also impacted the city’s activity levels as people remained in their local communities.

“Across March, we look forward to seeing office occupancy rates lift again as the resilience of Queenslanders comes to the fore, and Brisbanites seek to reconnect and support their city centre community.”

Meanwhile, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has announced all on-street parking meters would remain turned off until the end of March.

Cr Schrinner said parking meters were turned off last month to support Brisbane’s economic recovery and would continue as the city recovered from flooding.

“The flood we have just endured was one of the worst in our history,” he said.

“This is a tough blow for businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is one of many measures we can do to help get them back on track, while giving flood-affected residents one less cost to worry about.”

The free parking comes after Cr Schrinner announced a $250 rate rebate for flood victims.

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