Covid Dining Plans Emerge for Melbourne Summer


Bars, wineries, restaurants and cafes will no longer need permit approval to use public land to accommodate patrons as Melbourne’s hospitality industry gets ready to re-open.

From Sunday 1 November, Victorian venues will be able to capitalise on open spaces including streets, footpaths and carparks to add to venue capacity while restrictions reduce the number of patrons allowed for indoor dining.

The Victorian government first announced the outdoor dining strategy and $187.5 million support package in September which is inspired by New York city’s Covid containment plans.

Premier Daniel Andrews said they want to ensure Melbourne’s hospitality sector can make a smooth transition to outdoor dining by streamlining planning approvals.

“Our world-famous restaurants and food scene are a vital part of Melbourne and Victoria, and we all want to see them bounce back and welcome back patrons in a safe way,” Andrews said.

“The move to more outdoor drinking and dining has the potential to change our city and our state for the better and open up exciting new experiences–not just for this summer, but for every summer.”

According to the CBRE Thirsty for Business report consecutive lockdowns have tested Victorian resilience, particularly for central pubs in comparison to suburban or regional venues.

“Anecdotal evidence shows that trade between the first and second lockdowns was fairly encouraging for suburban venues that reopened during this four week period,” the report said.

“CBD hospitality, however, remained severely challenged and this is expected to continue with the absence of office workers and tourists for the foreseeable future.”

Northern hemisphere reimagines Covid-winter

While outdoor dining proved popular in New York in summer, across the northern hemisphere the hospitality industry is looking for ways to cope through winter.

The City of Chicago recently held a winter dining challenge to reimagine outdoor dining and safe options for the coldest months of the year.

The winners were ASD/SKY for cosy modular cabins which fit into a standard parking space, Neil Reindel’s heated open block booth design and Ellie Henderson’s heated Japanese-inspired tables with blankets.

Related: New York Inspires Melbourne’s ‘Covid Summer’ Strategy

The winners of Chicago's winter design challenge are ASD/SKY's cosy cabins, Neil Reindel's block party and Ellie Henderson's heated kotatsu tables.
▲ The winners of Chicago's winter design challenge are ASD/SKY's cosy cabins, Neil Reindel's block party and Ellie Henderson's heated kotatsu tables.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said they received 643 submissions and now the Illinois Restaurant Association will select construction firms to bring these ideas to life.

“As we approach the winter months and adapt our Covid-19 response accordingly, we owe it to our restaurants to make sure they have what they need to continue keeping their doors open and serving their communities,” Lightfoot said.

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