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Melbourne's Outdoor Dining Scene Is Set to Increase with a NYC-Style Plan on the Cards

With "predominantly outdoor seated service only" announced as part of step three of Vic Gov's roadmap, the City of Melbourne wants to help businesses level-up their al fresco game.
By Libby Curran
September 10, 2020
By Libby Curran
September 10, 2020

The immediate future of Melbourne's hospitality scene is still pretty hazy, even with the tentative dates outlined in the Victorian Government's reopening roadmap over the weekend. Firstly, the industry is at the mercy of the daily COVID-19 case numbers, which must have dipped drastically (to an average of less than five state-wide over 14 days and less than five cases with an unknown source in the prior fortnight) by Monday, October 26 in order for health officials to give the green light for step three. What's more, little information has been shared about that initial opening phase, other than the suggestion venues will be required to run "predominantly outdoor seated service only".

Whatever unfolds, CBD hospitality businesses can at least look forward to a helping hand from the City of Melbourne, which has been busy plotting a suite of new initiatives designed to get venues back in action, reviving the city's famous food scene as fast as possible. Now that the government's roadmap timeline has been revealed, the council is set to press 'go' on a number of measures it's had in the works.

Bentwood by Kate Shanasy

Many of these are focused on elevating Melbourne's outdoor dining scene, in a push that's modelled on NYC's Open Restaurant Program, which allows food venues to temporarily use sidewalks and curbs for openair dining. In anticipation of physical distancing requirements and the balmier spring weather to come, Melbourne businesses are keen to expand al fresco service options as much as possible. And the City of Melbourne is out to make that process easier, liaising with businesses to identify issues, working closely with the Victorian Government and taking practical steps like waiving certain street service permit fees.

"We will be announcing measures to make it easier for businesses to expand their seating onto footpaths and other areas," said Lord Mayor Sally Capp in a statement. "This will provide a safe way for people to enjoy our inner city food culture, particularly once the weather warms up. It's crucial we work together to provide some certainty and clarity for the future."

Ray Reyes via Visit Victoria

The plans come as modelling from Pricewaterhouse Coopers suggests the COVID-19 pandemic could reduce the City of Melbourne's economic output by up to $110 billion over the next five years. The data, which was commissioned by the council to aid recovery efforts, also showed that more than 22,000 accommodation and food services jobs could be lost this year alone.

The Council has also set up a City Economy Advisory Board, aimed at helping businesses navigate the impending recovery phase. A subcommittee targeting those in the retail, hospitality and accommodation sectors will coordinate efforts to bounce back, led by representatives from the likes of the Victorian Government, the Australian Retailers Association and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. City of Melbourne says it'll announce more hospitality-focused measures in the coming weeks.

You can learn more about the City of Melbourne's COVID-19 response at the website. For more information about the Victorian Government's roadmap, head to

Top image: Parco by Kate Shanasy

Published on September 10, 2020 by Libby Curran


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