As Victoria prepares to reopen, the State Government has unveiled support to help businesses operate outside.
The $54.5 million Outdoor Economy Package will help support the costs for thousands of businesses of 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 7000 Victorian businesses, community organisations, not-for-profits and trader associations with $2000 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. Some 20 per cent of the vouchers will be allocated in regional Victoria.
Hairdressers, beauty services, retail shops, dance studios and gyms will also be eligible to apply for vouchers, meaning they can join restaurants, cafes and bars in harnessing the opportunities of kerbside trading. The Voucher Program will open soon and will be delivered by Business Victoria in partnership with Service Victoria.
A new $40 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Fund will help councils transform more outdoor areas so Victorians can enjoy local attractions safely as we reach the key 70 per cent double vaccination threshold, then 80 per cent, with restrictions lifting significantly at those marks.
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 to bring our outdoor precincts to life.
Funding will be allocated based on the level of business activity, with metropolitan councils to receive between $300,000 and $800,000, regional councils $300,000–$500,000 and rural councils $100,000–$250,000.
Councils will be encouraged to use part of their allocation to waive permit fees and related charges, and 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.
Councils will also receive a share of $19.5 million to establish semi-permanent and permanent outdoor precincts.
The new packages are set to build upon a similar set of supports provided in 2020, which helped create parklets and pop-up bars across municipalities