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Victoria releases outdoor economy package

by Malavika Santhebennur5 minute read

A $54.5 million package has been launched in the state to support businesses setting up for street trading.

The Victorian government has unveiled a multimillion-dollar outdoor economy package to build on last year’s outdoor eating and entertainment package, which supported creation of parklets and pop-up bars with streamlined council permits.

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Victoria has achieved a first dose vaccination rate of almost 90 per cent, while almost 70 per cent of those 16 years and over have received both vaccine doses.

As such, Victoria’s chief health officer has determined that at 11:59pm on Thursday (21 October), Victoria will move forward with opening up and easing more restrictions, including allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen with up to 20 people indoors with density limits only if all attendees – including workers – are fully vaccinated.

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A $54.5 million outdoor economy package would help support the costs for businesses setting up for street trading, and back councils to provide the necessary infrastructure and support.

A $14.5 million COVIDSafe outdoor activation voucher program will provide more than 7,000 Victorian businesses, community organisations, not-for-profits, and trader associations with $2,000 grants when they spend at least that amount, to support initiatives such as outdoor hospitality and entertainment.

The vouchers will be valid for expenses including purchasing and hiring marquees, screens, and umbrellas, obtaining insurance, and promoting outdoor operations. Around 20 per cent of the vouchers will be allocated to regional Victoria.

Hairdressers, beauty services, retail shops, dance studios, and gyms will also be eligible to apply for vouchers, which would enable them to join restaurants, cafes, and bars and participate in kerbside trading.

The voucher program will open soon and will be delivered by Business Victoria in partnership with Service Victoria.

In addition, the Victorian government has launched a new $40 million COVIDSafe outdoor activation fund to assist councils with transforming more outdoor areas for Victorians to visit as the state hits vaccination targets and eases restrictions significantly at those points.

The fund will allocate $20.5 million so councils can provide immediate assistance to businesses to operate outdoors, through physical improvements such as new street furniture, landscaping, marquees, planter boxes and public art, as well as entertainment.

The government will allocate funds based on the level of business activity, with metropolitan councils to receive between $300,000 and $800,000, regional councils $300,000 to $500,000, and rural councils $100,000 to $250,000.

Councils will also receive a share of $19.5 million to establish semi-permanent and permanent outdoor precincts.

Businesses are set to receive maximum benefit, while councils have been encouraged to use part of their allocation to waive permit fees and related charges.

Councils will be required to agree not to create or impose any new or net additional fees or charges to businesses to use new or upgraded outdoor spaces.

Commenting on the grants, the Minister for Small Business, Jaala Pulford, said: “This is about giving businesses support to reopen in safe and new ways, ensuring they can recover strongly and quickly. Our small businesses are rearing to go and this will mean more customers and more trade as we move ever closer to our key vaccination targets.”

The Minister for Local Government, Shaun Leane, said: “Councils will work with their communities to breathe new life into streets and shopping strips across the state, making the most of outdoor opportunities this summer and beyond.”

The City of Melbourne will continue to receive funding separately through the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund and the $200 million Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund.

The government said it is working with the City of Melbourne to devise a program of direct support for businesses to establish and enhance outdoor operations.

[Related: Victorian SMEs to receive $2.3bn COVID support]

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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur

AUTHOR

Malavika Santhebennur is a content specialist at Momentum Media, focusing on mortgages and finance writing.

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