City of Sydney to protect al fresco dining amid fourth wave of Covid

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is making it easier for pubs to keep their doors open as a fourth wave of Covid threatens to sweep the nation.

The council has already sacrificed $5.7 million in revenue by waiving fees on outdoor dining permits since May 2021.

It expires in June and is now being extended by two years to June 2025 at a cost of $4 million.

Cafes, restaurants, pubs and cultural venues can apply for a permit to dine al fresco on the sidewalk or in the street space outside their venue provided the permit requirements are met.

“With the threat of a new wave of Covid and ongoing economic uncertainty, there remains a need to encourage al fresco dining,” Ms Moore said during her mayoral minute on Monday.

“We must continue to support businesses during this time and ensure al fresco dining is embedded in the streets of Sydney.”

Ms Moore warned landlords who may see the fee waiver as an opportunity to raise rents or “unfairly favor” certain tenants.

“Our efforts to help businesses should not be seen by others as an opportunity to raise rents or unfairly favor some in the community over others,” she said.

Health experts have urged people to work from home where they can as cases in NSW have doubled in two weeks.

In the week ending November 17, 27,869 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 across NSW.

Last week, NSW Health changed its Covid-19 risk rating from green to amber, while Covid cases in NSW and Victoria have doubled in just two weeks.

Hassan Valley, associate professor of epidemiology at Deakin University, said Monday that new variants XBB and BQ.1 are driving case numbers as they become more dominant.

He said people need to start thinking about “preventive behaviors” to reduce their risk of contracting the virus as cases rise.

“Maybe this is also a point where people, where they have the flexibility, should work from home a little bit more than it might become normal,” he said.

Health officials last week recommended NSW residents to wear masks indoors and on public transport when social distancing was not available.

NSW residents are also required to wear masks in all areas of hospitals.

Health authorities in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT have strongly recommended wearing masks again in indoor public areas and on public transport, but have balked at reintroducing mandates.

Originally posted as the City of Sydney scrambles to protect al fresco dining as the fourth Covid wave gathers steam

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