The people of Melbourne will be dining on the streets, shopping outside and going to hotels as part of multi-million-dollar government packages to reopen the city.
The state is also looking to New York for inspiration to restructure in time for summer and enjoy a “Covid-normal Christmas” as restrictions ease.
The state government is offering $1.7 billion in payroll tax deferral for the entire financial year as well as $1.1 billion in cash grants to support small and medium-sized businesses.
Victoria’s pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants get $250 million worth of grants as well as $130 million on tax breaks.
Businesses in the Victorian alpine region will get grants up to $20,000 to cover resort fees while tourism was drastically restricted at Mt Hotham and Falls Creek.
Broader hotel grants up to $30,000 are yet to be confirmed but are anticipated by industry groups.
There is also a $100 million council-state joint recovery package to extend outdoor trading, waive permit fees, activate vacant shop fronts as well as increasing marketing, events and entertainment to attract workers and visitors back to the city.
This package includes grants for physical infrastructure including umbrellas, planter boxes and bollards to help “already strapped businesses that are under considerable pressure” to make the transition.
Premier Daniel Andrews said this summer will be unlike any other so they have to use all spaces to get things up and running, now and into the future.
“If you look at places like New York, where they have been able to get their hospitality sector back to something approaching normal, faster than what would otherwise have been the case,” Andrews said.
New York City currently has 10,240 open restaurants operating on roadways, sidewalks or along open streets where infection rates have remained under 1,000 cases a day since June, compared to a top of 11,571 cases in mid-April.
“They have used the footpath—curb-side parking and taken public space and turned it into pop-up cafes, restaurants, bars,” Andrews said.
“That is what we will do,we will change the way the city operates and the suburbs and regional cities.
“I expect by the end of summer, so popular will the arrangements be, a mixture of some inside and many more people seated outside, I think that will become, in many respects, a lasting feature of the way the city and suburbs—indeed the whole state functions from a bar, restaurant, cafe, pub point of view.”
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said they were open to any proposals from local businesses or precinct groups about what would work in their local area.
“This fund will provide support for businesses to trade safely and help encourage customers back into the city once restrictions ease,” Capp said.
“Funding to help local businesses become more Covid-safe or expand their trade outdoors will be available as part of this package.
“We will provide financial support to help businesses trade outside along with making improvements to our streets and public places so that Melbourne businesses can thrive again as we welcome people back to the city.”
The City of Melbourne councillors will consider the Covid-19 Reactivation and Recovery Plan further this week.
Tourism Accommodation Australia Victoria general manager Dougal Hollis said they were still waiting on further details of the package including cash grants of up to $30,000.
“Our sector has been among the hardest hit since March so we will gladly accept any government support we can get,” Hollis said.
“It is good to see the dire situation facing our industry recognised and we will continue to work closely with the government on the implementation of the package.
“What we really need, however, is for the government to now revisit its roadmap, especially when it comes to accommodation hotels located in regional areas more than 100km from any active Covid-19 case.”