STATEMENT FROM THE LORD MAYOR, CLOVER MOORE
“The physical distancing measures required to save lives and prevent outbreaks of Covid-19 also had a devastating impact the livelihoods of many in our community. This was especially true in the city centre as venues were capped or closed, people began working from home and travel ground to a halt.
Our hospitality, tourism, retail, and creative industries all require an activated and enlivened city. An appetite for reform, and an unprecedented level of collaboration with the State Government, has made a range of initiatives we have long dreamed about – like street closure parties or outdoor dining – possible for the first time.
“Waiving outdoor dining fees was one of the first things we did when the pandemic hit Sydney. We did this to make it easier for restaurants, bars, and cafes to operate while encouraging physical distancing. People have really embraced it, with participating businesses telling us they’ve taken on extra staff and seen increased patronage – a crucial aid to staying afloat in these difficult times.
“Having brunch with friends, a wine after work or grabbing a quick bite and watching the world go by are some of the best moments of urban life. Being able to shop, dine or drink on our footpaths and roadways makes it easier for us to enjoy those things and support local businesses in a Covid-safe way. Almost two years later, expanding outdoor dining remains an essential part of what we’re doing to support business through these challenging times.”
“People want to get out of the house and enjoy what Sydney has to offer, safely. The current fee waiver is due to expire because we no longer have health orders restricting indoor capacities and people are returning to the City, but we want to ensure this wonderful program continues. The City has supported over 500 businesses to trade on footpaths and on roadways as part of the alfresco dining program, with over 4,460 square metres in footpath space approved for alfresco dining. “A survey in March showed that 91 per cent of participating businesses reported this program is crucial to their business, 74 per cent had employed additional staff, and 39 per cent had experienced up to a 20 per cent increase in turnover.
“With the threat of a new Covid wave and ongoing economic uncertainty there is a continuing need to encourage outdoor dining – to support our businesses and give people another way to socialise and enjoy being out in the city, safely.”
“So, at our Council meeting on Monday, I will be asking for support to extend the fee waiver for outdoor dining permits for an additional two years – through the end of this Council’s term – and to begin the process of identifying locations where the footway can be permanently extended into road space for outdoor dining and other community uses.”
“This new fee waiver will come at a cost of approximately $4 million to the City, but it’s money I think that has been well spent.
Our efforts to help businesses should not be seen by others as an opportunity to increase rents or unfairly favour some in the community over others, so I’m not calling for the fee waiver to be permanent at this time.”
“The next elected Council should review the fee waiver before it expires, to consider the economic circumstances at that time, the city’s financial position, and the broader impacts and outcomes of the initiative in consultation with businesses and the community.”