Tue, 19 Oct 2021

SYDNEY, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Australia second most populous city of Melbourne launched an "Inside Out" initiative which would bring dining, entertainment and nightlife out into the street once lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted in late October.

The initiative, announced on Friday, would capitalise on the Victorian government's roadmap out of lockdown, which would allow outdoor dining and recreation once 70 percent of the state's adult population had been fully vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, the state reached 45.9 percent fully vaccinated and is forecast to hit the 70 percent milestone by the end of October.

"Our small businesses have been the hardest hit in the whole of Australia. We are determined to make trading easier for them while we navigate this unique set of circumstances," said Lord Mayor of City of Melbourne Sally Capp.

Capp said after over 230 days in lockdown Melbourne would hit the ground running when restrictions begin to be lifted.

"There is a real sense of urgency around this initiative. Every day that businesses can't operate is another day of income lost," said Capp.

"Inside Out" would see the closure of selected laneways throughout central Melbourne on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to allow more citizens to attend 200 businesses that have, so far, been granted outdoor trading permits.

"We will be extending the moratorium on paying permit fees, approving more outdoor permits, and we are looking at lower cost options for outdoor dining infrastructure," said Capp.

The move is the latest series of state government programs that incentivize citizens to get back out and support the revitalisations of the city's entertainment and dining industries.

In June of this year, the Victorian government launched an 8.4-million-Australian dollar (6.1-million-U.S. dollar) dining initiative named "Melbourne Money", which allowed diners to claim a rebate on any money spent while dining.

"We saw just how popular 'Melbourne Money' was, and the value it provided to hospitality businesses, so we want to do it again," said Capp.

Further to this, last month Capp announced funding for some 60 events that will take place in 2022 including the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the Not-so-silent Cinema outdoor movie event, and a Summer Festival for children.

"This will be an exciting first for Melbourne. Imagine a bustling market with clothing racks and trestle tables on the street, along with food stalls and buskers that will help bring the vibrancy back to our beautiful city, safely," said Capp.

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