NSW hasn't seen a significant loosening of government restrictions for a while, but this Friday is a little different. From today, weddings will be able to have 150 guests, venues around NSW will only need to have two square metres of space per patron outdoors (rather than the previously enforced four-square-metre requirement), and visitors will begin arriving from New Zealand in the first phase of the long-awaited trans-Tasman bubble. As restrictions continue to ease, the Rocks is kicking off its alfresco dining pilot, with its famous harbourside streets converted into outdoor dining havens where diners will be able to sit, dine and drink into the long summer evenings.
Venues around the Rocks district will be participating, including pubs, cafes and restaurants. As a result of expanded boundaries under their trading licences, venues can now accommodate more people in outdoor dining areas and terraces – a whopping 1,000 additional patrons based on the new two square metre rule.
In a statement last month, NSW customer service minister Victor Dominello announced grand plans to turn the CBD as a whole into an outdoor dining hub for the summer, under the guidance of a taskforce comprised of government representatives. “This group of alfresco architects will look into streamlining existing legislation, so we have a pilot in place before summer, as well as long-term solutions where it makes sense to standardise the outdoor drinking and dining scene. A default safe alfresco culture should be the norm,” Dominello said. If the Rocks' transformation so far is anything to go by, we can't wait to see what's next.
Catch you on the streets this summer.