Get the wide brims out and start dreaming of the tipples you'll be sipping in the sun, because Sydney is set to become an outdoor dining haven this summer. Blessed with more than its fair share of great weather and clean air, Inner Sydney will make fuller use of its outdoor spaces after a post-shutdown task force was assembled to help shape the future of the city's outdoor dining scene. The initiative will allow restaurants that have relied on indoor dining to host more patrons outdoors, while still accounting for social distancing requirements.
While alfresco dining seems a natural option in a city like ours, lockdown restrictions may have given the government the push it needed to reduce red tape around licensing outdoor spaces for hospitality. “The health crisis has made indoor spaces less amenable to socialising so it’s time we reduce barriers to spending more social time outside,” Victor Dominello, the NSW minister for customer service said in a statement. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a series of CBD streets and laneways would be closed to traffic, while roadside parking on main streets would be converted to hold tables and chairs for outdoor dining.
“We’re at a point where we need a cultural transformation to breathe life back into hospitality businesses and it makes sense to take advantage of NSW’s great climate and superb hospitality offerings, while adapting to a world where COVID transmission remains a risk.” An increase in open-air dining spaces would help hospitality businesses increase traffic after the pressure of lockdown and capacity restrictions and ultimately create safer, more distanced environments for diners.
The task force behind the push to improve Sydney's outdoor dining scene includes representatives from NSW Liquor and Gaming, NSW Health, the Planning Department, and other state bodies.
“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. In some CBD areas, like the Rocks district (pictured), parts of George Street have already been closed off to make room for outdoor dining and lounging.
Catch you on the streets this summer.