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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Government wipes permit fees to encourage outdoor dining

As Canberra moves into summer, cafes, restaurants and bars are being encouraged by the ACT Government to trial outdoor dining with no permit fees.

Venues with existing outdoor dining areas may also be able to expand by utilising public space or sharing spaces with neighbouring businesses.

In February, the ACT Government introduced a free 12-month trial for outdoor dining and have also waived all existing outdoor dining permit fees for businesses for 2020-21.

Stonehouse Amaroo is one of 43 businesses across the ACT to sign up.

Having opened just two weeks ago, Stonehouse Amaroo director Tanya Hamilton said they had always planned to have an outdoor dining space, and the ability to do so without paying a fee was a bonus.

“That was a cost we had factored into our bills and something we saved money on in the end which is fantastic,” she said.

“There’s a lot of positive feedback around it from our customers. It’s in a good position with the sun.

“It’s also coming into that perfect time of year where people want to sit outside in the fresh air and enjoy a nice cold beer.”

Ms Hamilton said the application and approval process was “very detailed” but was done in line with their liquor licence application, meaning they filled out an assortment of paperwork at once.

“We had to map out the space, measure everything, take photos of the space and I guess draw a map of what it’s supposed to look like to put through with the application,” she said.

Karen Lyras, co-owner of Little Billy’s Restaurant in Weston, told Canberra Weekly any hospitality business that hasn’t taken up the cost-free outdoor dining space trial should do so “while it’s free”.

“For venues that can do it, I think it’s a fantastic idea, they should jump on board and do it now,” she said.

“It potentially doubles your space depending on how much you’re allowed to have.”

Coming into summer, Ms Lyras said their outdoor dining brings “an atmosphere to itself” to her venue.

“We’ve got people fighting for tables outside already, it’s great,” she said.

“Having people buzzing, there’s nothing better than the sound of happy people inside your shop and children playing outside … It does make a big difference.

“If you drive past somewhere and see a lot of people sitting outside dining, you’re going to go to that place over a venue with no one sitting out the front.

“That’s what we’ve observed in our last seven years here.”

Businesses interested in learning more about expanding or trialling outdoor dining areas can contact the Access Canberra Business Liaison team on 6205 4400 or by email at [email protected].

Additional information is also available online here.

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