A Melbourne local council will charge eateries up to $5,000 a month for every carpark slot they convert into outdoor dining space when lockdown ends.
Yarra City Council, in the city’s inner-east, wants to recoup cash lost from exorbitant parking meter fees on café strips like Brunswick and Smith streets.
Businesses already hit hard by two months of lockdown have no choice but to pay the council’s demands as they can’t serve diners inside under Covid rules.
Nearby councils like Stonnington and Darebin are by contrast considering waiving their significantly smaller fee of $1,200 a month to use parking spaces.
Melbourne inner-city eateries are set to be charged $5,000 to use outdoor parking spaces to sit patrons from October 26 (pictured)
Only outdoor dining can open until Victoria has 80 per cent vaccinated, and even then strict capacity limits of one patron per 4sqm up to 150 people.
Far more are allowed to sit outside, starting with 50 at 70 per cent, then 500 at 80 per cent – but both subject to the 4sqm rule.
Premier Daniel Andrews criticised the council’s plan, noting that his government provided grants to encourage businesses to set up outdoor dining.
‘I look forward to them defending that to their ratepayers,’ he said during his Covid briefing on Tuesday.
‘You are at dramatically less risk of spreading this if you are outside in the open air.’
Katie Marron, owner of Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in Fitzroy, told the Herald Sun her business wouldn’t be able to survive with the new fees.
‘It’s like, here’s something that’s going to help you stabilise your business, but now we’re going to sting you with exorbitant fees,’ she said.
Victorian cafes and restaurants are set to be allowed to seat up to 50 fully vaccinated customers outdoors once the 70 per cent vaccination target is reached (pictured, Smith Street in Melbourne)
Under the tiered pricing structure, Ms Marron’s restaurant on Smith Street will be charged $5,000 per parking space used.
Venues on less busy streets will be charged $3,000 in tier two and $2,250 in tier three.
The Yarra City Council, which lost $600,000 in revenue from parking fees and fines during lockdown, will vote on the fee structure on Tuesday night.
The Greens-led council is expected to go ahead with the huge fees, even amid warnings the costs are excessive.
But the cash strapped Yarra City Council will meet on Tuesday to announced a tiered pricing structure for businesses on busy Melbourne streets (pictured, Smith Street in Melbourne)
A survey found 86 per cent of local businesses recognised fees were inevitable and 75 per cent were concerned about their financial impact.
One in 10 owners also said they would completely stop operating outdoors if they were forced to pay $5,000 per parking spot.
Councillor Stephen Jolly said the Yarra Council was meant to be the most ‘progressive’ in the state, but the businesses who made it through lockdown now had another setback.
‘Those business owners that have survived are getting a kick in the teeth,’ he said.
‘Right through the pandemic, instead of doing all they can to make life easier for small businesses by reducing red and green tape – many councils have elected to do nothing.
Owners of businesses in tier 1 zones will be charged $5,000 per month per parking spot, with tier 2 being charged $3,000 and $2,250 in tier 3 (pictured, a vaccination centre in Melbourne)
‘The City of Yarra has shown itself often to be anti-business and very creative in how they can extract money from local businesses to fund projects that add zero value to residents.’
Victoria on Tuesday recorded the most new Covid cases in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic in Australia.
The state recorded 1,763 new infections on Tuesday – 164 more than the worst day of the lockdown on September 10.
Melbourne has been locked down longer than any city in the world through the whole pandemic and will not begin to taste freedom until at least October 26.