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Sydney drinkers set to finally stand outside as council moves to end ‘bygone era’ rules

Sydney’s city center pubs and bars can be surrounded by bustling crowds of drinkers in summer if an effort to do away with ‘bygone era’ council regulations is successful in a move welcomed by the hospitality industry.

Sydney patrons in the CBD areas are forced to sit outside while eating or drinking.

This is unlike elsewhere in the state, in other state capitals such as Melbourne or even famous pub cities such as London, where bustling crowds can sometimes be seen outside the venues.

While Sydneysiders have embraced the city's al fresco hospitality areas (above), they are not allowed to stand while drinking or eating thanks to a rule the council will amend pending public consultation

While Sydneysiders have embraced the city’s al fresco hospitality areas (above), they are not allowed to stand while drinking or eating thanks to a rule the council will amend pending public consultation

Disgruntled customers asked to be seated may not realize that this is not an odd house rule but something enforced by Sydney City Council and now there is concerted pressure within the council to change the regulations.

John Green, director of the Australian Hotels Association NSW, told Daily Mail Australia that he welcomed the initiative.

“The hard line is from a bygone era, it’s old style licenses,” said Mr Green.

He said the ordinance was a hangover from indoor dining rules that didn’t apply to outdoor areas.

Melburnians enjoy a drink as they sit outside on Chapel Street in a scene that could be replicated in Sydney if the council removes the 'anachronistic bureaucracy' that prevents this

Melburnians enjoy a drink as they sit outside on Chapel Street in a scene that could be replicated in Sydney if the council removes the ‘anachronistic bureaucracy’ that prevents this

The explosion of central Sydney’s al fresco dining, driven by the demands of the ‘fresh air’ of the Covid era, presented an opportunity that had to be seized, Mr Green argued.

“It’s a good move and brings City of Sydney in line with the rest of NSW,” he said.

“It allows people to stay outside in a Covid safe way and takes advantage of Sydney’s moderate weather.”

Liberal councilor and aspiring rooftop bar owner Lyndon Gannon leads the campaign.

Australian Hotels Association welcomes move to allow outdoor drinkers to enter Sydney, saying it's a 'Covid-safe' measure

Australian Hotels Association welcomes move to allow outdoor drinkers to enter Sydney, saying it’s a ‘Covid-safe’ measure

On Facebook, he labeled the requirement to stand outside a venue while drinking as “anachronistic red tape.”

“Current outdoor dining guidelines that require customers to sit are a hangover from the pre-lockout era,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Sydney has changed, and so has this requirement.

“This summer I want to see people lining the streets, enjoying glasses of Chablis in hand.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Sydney Major Clover Moore and Deputy Mayor Jess Scully are also in favor of the move.

“We would like to see bars and restaurants introduce high tables in the outdoor area so that there is more space outside to eat and drink,” Ms Scully told the newspaper.

Sydney Major Clover Moore is said to support changes to hospitality rules that prevent people from standing outside the venues and drinking, in a move pushed by a Liberal councilor

Sydney Major Clover Moore is said to support changes to hospitality rules that prevent people from standing outside the venues and drinking, in a move pushed by a Liberal councilor

What stands in their way are these rules from the Council’s 2021 outdoor dining guidelines: ‘Outdoor seating can only be used by seated customers consuming food or drinks. Visitors are not allowed to eat or drink or stand on the approved outdoor seating.’

Despite what appears to be solid board support for the change to be made, Ms Scully indicated that any proposed change should still be subject to a public consultation period.

Last October, Sydney City Council allowed people to stand outside while drinking as a Covid measure, but venues had to apply for a special permit.

During the pandemic, people were unable to even stand while drinking in NSW locations for nearly a year due to Covid restrictions.

Then NSW Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro and then Treasurer (now Prime Minister) Dominic Perrottet celebrate the end of the long Covid ban on drinkers allowed to stand in NSW on St Patrick's Day 2021

Then NSW Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro and then Treasurer (now Prime Minister) Dominic Perrottet celebrate the end of the long Covid ban on drinkers allowed to stand in NSW on St Patrick’s Day 2021

However, that rule was lifted in March this year with some fanfare in time for St Patick’s Day, which then-Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro and then Treasurer, now Prime Minister, Dominic Perrottet were eager to celebrate.

Repealing the rule against drinking and eating while standing could be a boon for the city’s hospitality industry, which is showing signs of emerging from the Covid period.

After being allowed as a Covid-safe option, alfresco dining in Sydney has taken off with more than 440 requests for such areas.

Mr Green said that although the central Sydney hospitality sector recovered from the Covid restrictions, there were still flat spots.

“Some parts of the CBD will still suffer from weekday trading during the winter months,” he said.

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