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Desperate Melbourne restaurateurs choke on outdoor dining plan

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A $100m plan to help Melbourne’s cafes and restaurants survive tough lockdown rules by boosting open-air dining has run into widespread industry criticism, with the city’s notoriously fickle weather cited as just one objection.

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On Monday Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $290 million funding package, including $100 million to help Melbourne CBD restaurants and cafes set up outdoor dining spaces.

It is part of the strategy to ease Victoria out of its coronavirus lockdown measures.

The government drew inspiration from New York’s Open Restaurants initiative, which has involved footpaths, laneways and streets being temporarily transformed into dining areas.

But restaurant and cafe owners quickly savaged the plan, pointing to Melbourne’s notoriously fickle weather as a key problem.

Caterina Borsato, owner of Caterina’s Cucina e Bar in the Melbourne CBD, called on the government to let restaurants and cafes have some indoor dining.

While she said some cafes could make the idea work, she said it was impractical for restaurants such as hers.

“We’re all on our hands and knees,” she told 3AW.

“Most restaurants in the city, that (outdoor dining) is not what we do.

“I’m in the basement – it’s totally impractical for me.

“They have to let us open up indoors. We did it properly in June.”

-wit AAP

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