A pilot program easing outdoor eating and dining rules for hotel businesses in the state to help them emerge from the COVID-19 crisis is expected to become permanent later this year.

The outdoor trial launched by the NSW government last year aims to make it easier for city councils to allow bars and restaurants to extend their seats to surrounding trails.

Tio’s Cerveceria in Surry Hills has invested in street parking lots for outdoor dining. Credit:Anna kucera

The changes allow sites to adjust to additional footfall in a safe manner against COVID-19 and accommodate some losses imposed by the restrictions.

As part of the trial, pubs and small bars can ask their councils for outdoor seating without applying for a fit-out (an allowance already available for cafes and restaurants), and, once approved , the state liquor board will approve the extended area within three days, as against 30.


The lawsuit began last year at The Rocks and Darling Harbor before spreading to seven communal areas: Sydney City, Randwick City Council, Parramatta Town, Narrabri Council, Council of the Inland West, the North Beach Council and the Byron Shire Council.

New South Wales Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello described the move to tenure as a “no-brainer” given the state’s temperate climate. He said more than 200 companies, including 130 licensed sites, have chosen to participate.

“In the first eight weeks of the trial, Darling Harbor businesses reported an average 33% increase in revenue and a 27% increase in customer count,” Dominello said.

With the trial ending in October, Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the time had come to consider making the changes permanent in order to create a “new normal” for the hospitality industry as the pandemic continues.

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