Melbourne's outdoor dining plan begins to take shape

Frank Camorra, executive chef at MoVida, is working through the red tape of outdoor dining.
Frank Camorra, executive chef at MoVida, is working through the red tape of outdoor dining. Photo: Supplied

The City of Melbourne has released more details on its $100 million outdoor dining support package, giving some shape to the scheme, while also laying out a 10-point plan for speedier reopening of indoor dining.

The statement released on Monday said that applications for extended outdoor dining permits would be free, and will open from October 1. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account accessibility and the needs of city residents. Businesses with no outdoor footprint (about 10 per cent of businesses) may be able to negotiate alternative arrangements such as the use of car parks and pop-up hubs. 

The proposal also lists streets under consideration for total closure over weekends to increase trader footprint and create a "festive" environment that would encourage patronage. These include Bellair Street in Kensington, Faraday Street in Carlton, Bourke Street (between Exhibition and Spring streets), Russell Street (between Lonsdale and Bourke), Domain Road in South Yarra and Errol Street in North Melbourne.

The City of Melbourne has also put forward a 10-point plan, which is being used to lobby for faster reopening of indoor dining. It lays out plans to deploy 200 safety officers, who would provide every cafe and restaurant with COVID-19 safety kits including thermometers, sanitisers and signage (a costly expense for businesses) and to help businesses with reopening in a safe manner, sooner, both indoors and out.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said in the statement: "While we welcome the state government's decisive and positive action on outdoor dining, such arrangements do not suit all of our cafes, pubs and restaurants. That is why we have created a plan for fast-tracking indoor dining that we will continue to advocate to the Premier and the state government."

The plan has the support of the Restaurant and Catering Association according to CEO Wes Lambert.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, pictured at Faraday Street in Carlton, is giving shape to the outdoor dining plan.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, pictured at Faraday Street in Carlton, is giving shape to the outdoor dining plan. Photo: Justin McManus

"It is critical that the industry is allowed to reopen using common sense measures and COVID-safe plans to get Melburnians back into jobs, businesses back in business and the Melbourne economy back on track to a steady recovery," Lambert says.

Movida's Frank Camorra says, "We definitely don't want to proceed with outside dining only but feel that some sort of outside area when we are allowed to open inside as well will be beneficial."

He is just beginning to work through the documents this week, and pending red tape, the reaction of residents and traffic, hopes to take over "either Hosier Lane or Rutledge Lane".