Victoria pledges $87m to bring outdoor dining to life

Victoria pledges $87m to bring outdoor dining to life

Victorians will be able to enjoy a summer of al fresco drinking and dining once COVID-19 trading restrictions on hospitality businesses are eased, thanks to almost $90 million in government funding.

Announced today, the Victorian Government's 'Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package' will target funding at hospitality businesses and city councils to make outdoor dining experiences possible under COVID-19 restrictions.

Business will be able to apply for up to $5,000 grants to pay for practicalities needed to make the Government's plans work like umbrellas, furniture, screens and other equipment.

The State Government estimates more than 11,000 eligible businesses will benefit from the $58 million in grants.

Eligible businesses include licenced and unlicenced cafes, restaurants, takeaway food businesses, pubs, taverns, bars and clubs with a payroll of less than $3 million.

They will be able to make the most of the funds from 26 October - the date at which the State Government hopes outdoor dining will be permitted once again when COVID-19 restrictions ease.

"We're the cultural and dining capital of our nation," says Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

"That means, when it comes to reimagining what eating and entertainment means under COVID Normal, there's no one better equipped than Melbourne and Victoria.

"It will be our innovation, ideas and creativity that will help us find and maintain our COVID Normal."

Further funding of $29.5 million will be provided to local councils to help them implement permit, enforcement and monitoring processes to support expanded outdoor dining in the 'Third Step' of Victoria's reopening roadmap.

The close to $90 million in funding for outdoor dining experiences follows the State Government's $50 million pledge (matched by the City of Melbourne for a total of $100 million) to assist CBD-based businesses transform.

From that fund, SMEs in Melbourne's CBD will be able apply for $30 million worth of grants to pay for equipment, convert spaces like rooftops and courtyards into hospitality zones and remodel internal layouts to allow for the better flow of patrons.

A further $30 million will support COVID Safe events and cultural activities to attract visitors back to the CBD when it's safe to do so.  Another $40 million will go towards providing physical improvements to the CBD streetscape, which may include wider footpaths, bollards and street planter boxes.

$100m sole trader support package established

To support struggling sole traders the State Government has also established a $100 million support fund, providing eligible entrepreneurs with grants of $3,000.

To be eligible sole trades must demonstrate that they are continuing to be affected by restrictions, like those in media and film production, creative studios, outdoor entertainment, in private museums and galleries, and gym owners.

"While many sole traders have been relying on JobKeeper payments to get by, overheads are adding up and these grants will provide extra support to help these businesses get through until they are back to full operation," says the Victorian Government.

Today's announcements are in addition to yesterday's $3 billion in grants, tax relief and cashflow support for Victorian businesses.

Updated at 4.26pm AEST on 14 September 2020.

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