Summer dining

The city’s outdoor dining program is set to ramp up for the summer after an accelerated rollout from October 28.

After three weeks of outdoor dining, the City of Melbourne an- nounced on November 16 that the city’s New Year celebrations would drop its long-term major firework display and focus on food and wine culture.

A two-day “dining experience” – the New Year Street Feasts – will be delivered by the City of Melbourne, the state government and Melbourne Food and Wine Festival from December 31 to January 1.

The City of Melbourne said the ini- tiative took inspiration from the pi- azzas and squares of Europe. Eleven dining precincts will be set up across the municipality, with more than 50 venues across:

• Little Bourke St • Little Collins St • AC/DC Lane
• Hardware Lane • Russell St

• Spring St
• Flinders Lane
• Lonsdale St
• Market Lane
• Domain Rd
• Docklands

In its announcement the City of Melbourne said the 400,000 people Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve fire- works drew to the city posed a public health risk during the pandemic.

It said the pre-booked dining pro- gram was designed to bring people into the city across two days without drawing mass crowds at once.

“This has been an incredibly tough year and we want to mark its end by celebrating and supporting Melbourne’s wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants,” the Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“We are tailoring a program to safely encourage more patrons into our incredible and deserving hospi- tality businesses that have struggled through lockdown restrictions.”

“This is will be an opportunity to say goodbye to 2020, look forward to a brighter 2021 and thank every Melburnian for their efforts to over- come the COVID-19 pandemic.”

New Year Street Feasts is being ar- ranged by the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne through the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival CEO Anthea Loucas Bosha said the program would add thousands of restaurant seats across the city during the two-day period.

“Melburnians are passionate food lovers. We’re very much looking forward to working with the city’s talented operators to create extraor- dinary dining experiences to ring in the New Year,” he said.

The council has received the equivalent of four years’ worth of ap- plications for outdoor dining permits in normal times in the weeks since October 28.

More than 1300 permits for out- door dining have been issued across the City of Melbourne, utilising almost 200 on-street car parking spaces across 100 locations.

The Lord Mayor said the council would review the outdoor dining program in making decisions about what the program may look like in the long term.

“This program was put together in record time in response to COVID-19 and will be in place until at least the end of March next year,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We will review the program and take on board feedback from businesses, customers, residents, precincts and industry groups when we look at what might be appropriate over the longer-term.”

The council has also launched an after-hours helpline for residents to report non-compliance with local laws in relation to outdoor dining.

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