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NSW's $100 Dining and Entertainment Vouchers Will Be Rolled Out From March

A trial phase will kick off in February, starting with The Rocks and later extending to the Sydney CBD and the northern beaches.
By Sarah Ward
January 21, 2021
By Sarah Ward
January 21, 2021

The past year hasn't been easy for New South Wales' hospitality and entertainment businesses. Temporary closures, pivoting to takeaway and delivery, stocking sought-after grocery items, enforcing social distancing, operating at limited capacity, using QR codes — these have all been on the cards to help stem the spread of COVID-19, and they've all had a sizeable impact. So, as part of the State Budget for 2020–21, the NSW government announced a new scheme to help both sectors. Originally called 'Out and About' but now named 'Dine and Discover', the program is designed to encourage folks to head out of the house, have a meal, and see a movie or show. And, to do so on multiple occasions.

Initially, the state government had set a launch timeframe of January 2021 for the $500 million scheme, following a pilot period. After Sydney's recent coronavirus clusters and the northern beaches lockdown, that timeline has now been updated — with the testing phase happening in February and vouchers starting to be rolled out across the state from March.

The Rocks will lead the charge in the trial period, as will Broken Hill in the state's west, with both pilots starting in early February. Customers will be invited to take part, while businesses can register to participate. Then, the testing will be rolled out to the Sydney CBD, northern beaches area and Bega Valley from late February, ahead of the vouchers going statewide the next month.

Exact dates haven't yet been given but, when Dine and Discover comes into effect, every NSW resident over the age of 18 will be eligible to receive $100 in vouchers. You'll score four $25 vouchers, in fact, with two available to use at restaurants, cafes, clubs and other food venues, and the other two specifically for cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas and amusement parks.

There are a few caveats, understandably. You won't be able to use your vouchers on tobacco, alcohol or gambling, for starters. And, you can only use each voucher once, including if your transaction totals less than $25. You'll also need to use your vouchers separately, because the idea is to get NSW folks heading out several times to several different places.

Cassandra Hannagan

To access the vouchers, you'll also need a MyServiceNSW account — and the corresponding app, so you can use the vouchers digitally. You'll only be able to redeem them at participating and COVID-safe registered businesses, however, with the exact details about where you can use them set to be revealed before the scheme goes live.

Hospitality company Sydney Collective has already announced that it'll double the value of the vouchers at eight of its NSW venues when they come into effect — so it'll give you an extra $25 on top of each $25 voucher.

Obviously, the state's social distancing requirements and other COVID-19 hygiene practises will still apply to anyone venturing out of their house for something to eat, a night at the flicks or some time mashing buttons.

And if it all sounds a bit familiar, that's because the UK implemented something similar earlier in 2020, offering up half-price meals to encourage folks to eat out — although it has been suggested that the British scheme might've contributed to a rise in coronavirus cases.

The NSW Government's Dine and Discover scheme will start its trial phase in February, before a statewide rollout from March. For more information, visit the government's website.

Top image: Cassandra Hannagan

Published on January 21, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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