Outdoor Dining to Become New Norm for Hamilton

Hamilton is following in Wellington's footsteps as outdoor dining is set to become a normal part of the city's hospitality culture.

In an effort to help struggling cafe and restaurant operators, city councillors have supported measures to enable more outdoor dining.

The council will extend outdoor dining permits and waive all fees and charges. New outdoor dining applications will be prioritised and issued for 12 months.

Hamilton deputy mayor Geoff Taylor said the measures were in response to the pleas of the hospitality sector.

Expanding outdoor dining will enable venues to seat more guests while still adhering to COVID-19 physical distancing requirements.

Taylor said hospitality operators are an integral part of the city's fabric, and while some will survive and others will not, this is something the council could do to support the industry.

The suite of actions was agreed upon at a council meeting last week with councillor Rob Pascoe, the only objector.

Pascoe, who chairs the finance committee, said while he supported the good gesture, the measures had not been costed.

Costs are already starting to mount, and waiving all the fees for about 3000 tables across the city could lose $150,000 in revenue, he said.

However, Pascoe's argument was rebutted by councillor Ewan Wilson, who said the hospitality sector had been penalised more than any other business sector.

Wilson said he was surprised there was any hesitation to support the desperate needs of hospitality.

Vanessa Williams, general manager of the Hamilton Central Business Association, said the council's support would be a huge difference for many operators.

Hamilton City Council is also supporting a request from the Restaurant Association NZ, Hospitality NZ and Heart of the City Auckland to change liquor legislation that will allow outdoor diners to order wine or beer.