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The City of Melbourne's New Outdoor Trading Initiative Will See Al Fresco Dining Areas Pop-Up in the CBD

The Inside Out program will make it easier for business owners to embrace outdoor dining and retail via fast-tracked applications, extended hours and laneway pop-ups.
By Libby Curran
September 28, 2021
By Libby Curran
September 28, 2021

Dining rooms and offices across the city have stood silent for the past two months, sapping the CBD of its usual buzz. But the City of Melbourne is already setting its sights on sunnier days, unveiling a new plan to prioritise outdoor trading, dining and entertainment along streets and outside venues in the city.

Designed to complement the Victorian Government's roadmap out of lockdown, the council's Inside Out initiative will aim to make things as easy as possible for venues and retailers navigating the reopening phase. The initial focus is firmly on open-air trade, with a push towards fast-tracking outdoor trading applications to remove as many hurdles as possible for operators. Plans currently under consideration also include an extension of retail trading hours as the weather warms up, and the closure of select laneways on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights so hospitality venues can offer outdoor dining into the evening. There are also plans to employ buskers to help liven up the streets and outdoor spaces.

Emily Godfrey for Visit Victoria

"This will be an exciting first for Melbourne. Imagine a bustling market with clothing racks and trestle tables on the street, along with food stalls and buskers that will help bring the vibrancy back to our beautiful city, safely," Lord Mayor Sally Capp said in a statement.

Victoria's four-phase roadmap allows hospitality venues to start reopening for outdoor trade once 70 percent of the state's residents aged over 16 have been fully vaxxed, which is expected to happen in late October. Retail will fully reopen when Victoria is 80 percent double-dosed, which is predicted for around the first week of November.

On top of its Inside Out program, the City of Melbourne is kicking on with other reinvigoration initiatives including its Flash Forward laneway creative art program and projects to help breathe new life into empty shopfronts. It's also keen to launch another round of the Melbourne Money dining rebate scheme, which originally kicked off in June.

The Inside Out program is scheduled to launch from late October, in line with the government's roadmap.

Images: Emily Godfrey for Visit Victoria.

Published on September 28, 2021 by Libby Curran


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