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Outdoor dining for business

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As regional Victoria prepares to re-activate via the Victorian Government’s coronavirus roadmap to recovery, the City of Greater Bendigo is here to make it as easy as possible for hospitality businesses to either start or expand their outdoor dining footprint to maximise the number of customers that are able to dine-in.

As you would be aware, under the Third Step of the roadmap, hospitality business will be required to mainly serve patrons outside with group limits of 10 people and other physical distancing requirements.

To support this, outdoor dining areas may be able to expand along the footpath or in some instances you may be able to make temporary use of adjacent car parks or even partial road closures, particularly if you are part of a group of neighbouring hospitality businesses. We all need to think a little differently and creatively, and the City is ready to support you to do this.

There will be no cost to commence or expand your outdoor dining footprint, as the City has waived all outdoor dining fees as part of the 2020/2021 Budget. This opportunity is temporary and approvals will be in place until June 30, 2021. City staff will continue to monitor if these approvals need to be extended or other arrangements put in place.

If you are a hospitality business that is interested in discussing your options, please contact the City’s Business Help Desk by emailing [email protected] or phoning 5434 6000 and our staff will arrange a time to meet with you and discuss how we can make it happen. 

There will still be some requirements that need to be met to ensure the safety of everyone and for some businesses the process will be a little different, particularly if you have a liquor licence, but we have created a dedicated team of staff to help you through the process and make it as seamless as possible.

Below are some frequently asked questions to assist you:

The City wants to work with all hospitality businesses in Greater Bendigo to help them achieve an outcome that allows them to trade safely.

Contact the City’s Business Help Desk through [email protected] or phone 5434 6000 and our staff will arrange a time to meet with you, review your site and discuss the options available to you. We will work as quickly as possible to get you ready to welcome customers under the new regulations.

Our staff will help you fill in an application form onsite or it can be emailed to you after the visit.

A Local Laws Permit will be issued as quickly as possible, once all safety matters and other requirements have been assessed. You can start trading when you receive your Local Laws Permit and as soon as roadmap restrictions allow. We are committed to making this happen as quickly as possible but given most businesses will require a permit, the first week or two will be busy!

If you require a change to your liquor licence (red line area), a Planning Permit will be required.  We have a dedicated Planning Officer to help you work through this as quickly as possible.

There is no cost to businesses. As part of the 2020/2021 Budget, the City has waived all outdoor dining fees. There will also be no cost for a planning permit application fee to Council associated with permits for liquor licencing extensions within outdoor dining areas.

If your business is in the city centre and you do not require a liquor licence, you will not need a Planning Permit but you will need a Local Laws Permit before you can start trading. *

If your business is outside of the city centre you may need a Planning Permit. This may be due to specific controls or the planning zone that applies to the property. If you do require a Planning Permit, we have a dedicated Planning Officer to help make this process as simple as possible.

If you wish to extend your liquor licence you will need a new Planning Permit and our dedicated Planning Officer will help to make this process as simple as possible. These applications may also need to be referred to Victoria Police and a separate application may also need to be made to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. We are working closely with the Victorian Government to advocate for liquor licences to be amended as quickly as possible.

*Note: If you undertake any building/works to facilitate outdoor dining, you may require a Planning Permit.

If you already have a liquor licence for your outdoor area and you are not proposing an extension, then you won’t need to amend your liquor licence and can operate as normal. If you extend your outdoor dining area and would like to serve alcohol in this area, you will need to amend your Planning Permit and liquor licence.

Our dedicated Planning Officer will be available to make this process as simple as possible. These applications may also need to be referred to Victoria Police and a separate application may also need to be made to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. We are working closely with the Victorian Government to advocate for liquor licences to be amended as quickly as possible.

We need to ensure it is safe for patrons dining-in and also for pedestrian and vehicle traffic. In some instances roads may be closed, however we still need to ensure that whatever measures are put in place that emergency vehicles can access the area.

There is no set design and we encourage businesses that want to pursue this option to be creative. Diners will also need to be comfortable, so think about heating, cooling and shade and how you will be able to keep groups physically distanced. Any design also needs to be durable for long-term public use.

This cost will be the responsibility of the business owner. As it is unlikely businesses will be able to cater for many customers indoors, some of this furniture may be able to be taken outside. Businesses may also choose to hire furniture or other items like marquees or heaters. We are working closely with the Victorian Government to advocate for funding to support businesses that require additional equipment.

The City is keen to work with businesses to achieve an agreeable outcome. It is hoped neighbouring businesses will support each other in good faith during this time and our staff will be able to help negotiate this if needed.

The City will work with Regional Roads Victoria (formally VicRoads) to manage any parklets or street closures, where appropriate, or possibly make temporary changes to speed restrictions. Appropriate signage will also be placed as needed to warn drivers and pedestrians of changed road conditions. The City is also working closely with the Victorian Government to advocate for funding to support the availability of road barriers where these may be required.

There has been no direction as yet from the Victorian Government as to what it expects of hospitality businesses, aside from following the known physical distancing and hygiene measures. As this information becomes available all businesses will be required to follow the advice in order to trade.  

You will require public liability insurance to the value of $10 million.  Businesses that already offer outdoor dining should already have this in place.  Please check with your insurer in the first instance.

You will need to provide a map of the outdoor area where you wish to trade. Our staff can assist you with this. Click here to go to the City’s online map application and zoom in on your location.

You must have a COVID Safe Plan and record all patron names and contact numbers.

All additional Victorian Government advice regarding outdoor trading requirements for the hospitality sector must also be strictly followed.

Contact us

For more information please contact the City's Business Help Desk by emailing [email protected] or phoning 5434 6000.

We welcome your feedback.

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