The NSW Government and City of Sydney initiative to revitalise outdoor dining across inner Sydney is being embraced by venues and consumers alike, with 204 Al Fresco Dining permits already granted.

The state government and local council pledged over $20m to help venues struggling under COVID lockdowns. City of Sydney council has now pledged a further $5.7m for Al Fresco activations, with $3.5m to extend fee-free outdoor dining until June 2022 and an additional $2.2m for inner-city events and activations.

The council’s funding commitment is on top of the NSW Government’s further $20m for the CBD Revitalisation program, announced at the Sydney CBD Summit in April.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the success of the outdoor dining initiative showed people were ready to return to the city and support local businesses.

“The city is bouncing back from its forced hibernation and we’re making it easier for more businesses to go Al Fresco, which will give our economy another major boost,” Perrottet said.

“We know people want to get back out and enjoy our great city, we’ve seen that with the success of the Sunset Piazza and Culture Up Late programs.

“Making it easier for businesses to adopt Al Fresco dining has worked in tandem with the rollout of the Dine & Discover voucher program and provided the flexibility needed to help reignite our harbour city.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that to date 2690sqm has been approved under the al fresco program, including new road reallocation plus new and expanded approvals on the footpath, helping to kick-start the city’s economic recovery.

“Waiving outdoor dining fees was one of the first things we did when the pandemic hit Sydney, to make it easier for restaurants, bars and cafes to operate while encouraging physical distancing,” the Lord Mayor said.

“People have really embraced it, with participating businesses telling us they’ve taken on extra staff and seen increased patronage – a crucial aid to staying afloat in these difficult times.

“By working with the state government to cut through red tape and waive fees for outdoor dining permits, we’re supporting local businesses and allowing visitors, residents and workers to enjoy new outdoor dining experiences.

“Covid is not over, and neither is our economic recovery. So to support business and keep people healthy, outdoor dining will be free at least until the end of the financial year.”

Paul Burnicle, General Manager of the Dolphin Hotel on Crown Street, praised the initiative as a hospitality “gamechanger”.

“We’ve just had the roadside barriers installed and the space looks phenomenal,” Mr Burnicle said.

“It has really added another element to our venue and Crown Street as a whole. It’s great to see Sydney coming back to life after the year we’ve all endured.

“From start to finish, applying to final execution, the whole idea and process has been seamless. Kudos to all for making this happen.”

The streamlined application process makes it easier for businesses to set up tables and chairs in laneways, footpaths and parking bays. Concrete barriers decorated with artwork from the City’s hoardings artwork collection separate diners from traffic.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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