The Victorian Government is helping businesses and the community breathe new life into local neighbourhoods as vaccination progressively delivers greater freedoms across the state from Friday.

With summer drawing near and Victorians warming to the promise of a return to bars, cafes and restaurants, the new $54.5 million Outdoor Economy Package will help support the costs for thousands of businesses of setting up for street trading, and back councils to provide the necessary infrastructure and support.

A $14.5 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Voucher Program will provide more than 7,000 Victorian businesses, community organisations, not-for-profits and trader associations with $2,000 grants when they spend at least that amount to support initiatives such as outdoor hospitality and entertainment.

Hairdressers, beauty services, retail shops, dance studios and gyms will also be eligible to apply for vouchers, meaning they can join restaurants, cafes and bars in harnessing the opportunities of kerbside trading. The Voucher Program will open soon and will be delivered by Business Victoria in partnership with Service Victoria.

A new $40 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Fund will help councils transform more outdoor areas so Victorians can enjoy local attractions safely as we reach the key 70 per cent double vaccination threshold, then 80 per cent, with restrictions lifting significantly at those marks.

The Fund will allocate $20.5 million so councils can provide immediate assistance to businesses to operate outdoors, through physical improvements such as new street furniture, landscaping, marquees, planter boxes and public art, as well as entertainment to bring our outdoor precincts to life.

Councils will also receive a share of $19.5 million to establish semi-permanent and permanent outdoor precincts.

Cardinia Shire Council, Casey City Council, and Yarra Ranges Shire Council will each receive $300,000 through Part A and $275,000 through Part B, receiving a total allocation of $575,000.

The Fund will provide maximum benefit to businesses with councils encouraged to use part of their allocation to waive permit fees and related charges. Councils will be required to agree not to create or impose any new or net additional fees or charges to businesses to use new or upgraded outdoor spaces.

Quote attributable to Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford

“This is about giving businesses support to reopen in safe and new ways, ensuring they can recover strongly and quickly. Our small businesses are rearing to go, and this will mean more customers and more trade as we move ever closer to our key vaccination targets.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane

“Councils will work with their communities to breathe new life into streets and shopping strips across the state, making the most of outdoor opportunities this summer and beyond.”

Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

Outdoor dining was embraced by businesses and patrons last Summer, particularly across Eastern Victoria. I can’t wait to see as many local venues as possible accessing this fantastic initiative and getting more families, couples and groups getting out and about safely as we open up.”