As we learned from NSW’s emergence from our first lockdown earlier in 2021, you’ve got to employ a little tenderness as people reemerge from hibernation. Dominic Perrottet might be letting it rip, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of councils, businesses, and individuals doing their part to make the next few months feel fun and safe.
As we move our social selves from parks to venues, outdoor dining – a luxury Sydney never really enjoyed – seems ready to explode in popularity. Outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is far less likely than indoor transmission, so it’s wonderful to see so many new ways to safely enjoy yourself in the open air coming to Sydney.
Previously an activity held in licensing purgatory, lockdowns have served as an unexpected catalyst to finally allow bars, cafes, and restaurants to spill seating into gardens, carparks, and other outdoor areas.
The so-called alfresco dining plan is handing $5000 over to 5000 businesses to make the necessary changes, as part of a larger package aimed at giving the hospitality sector some much-needed CPR. All up the plan amounts to $66 million, and will include footpath dining permits for small bars and pubs.
A huge place of note for these changes is the recently pedestrian-friendly George Street, which is set to cop a huge amount of outdoor furniture, new areas designed specifically for outdoor, and more improvements. The alfresco package has also seen the end of a community-led campaign to save the outdoor dining carpark at Marrickville’s Vic on the Park, which will be allowed to stay operating until at least April 2022.
The Drink and Dine stimulus package is also being given a second life in celebration of restrictions easing. You may still have a few vouchers sitting in your Service NSW app – the expiry date of the first round was eventually extended until June 2022 – but now you’ll have an additional $50 to spend at your favourite establishments.
As of right now you can claim two additional vouchers, $25 each, one for dining and one for entertainment. Something to keep in mind though, a huge amount of the previous vouchers ended up being spend on fast food conglomerates, so be sure to spend yours at more local joints that could really use the business.
And finally, musicians all over Sydney are rejoicing at the rush of booking requests that have been filling their inboxes. Local to Happy’s home in Newtown, Waywards at the Bank Hotel, the Vanguard, and the previously mentioned Vic on the Park are all hosting both solo and band shows already. The Rocks is already lively with venues such as The Glenmore and The Australian Hotel booking talent, and you’ll likely find your local joints are doing the same.
Combined with the reinvigoration of outdoor dining, expect a lively, musical Sydney to greet you as we come into the silly season.