Potential Expansion to On-Street Dining During Level 2

Auckland restaurants and cafes may soon be able to follow in the footsteps of London, Paris and New York by expanding outdoor dining onto the streets in anticipation of a long alert level 2.

Last week, New Zealand moved to level 2, excluding Auckland, which remains at level 4, but Auckland eateries are planning ahead.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said Auckland might remain at alert level 2 (when it shifts) for a long time due to the higher risk of the Delta variant.

According to Auckland councillor Richard Hills, many businesses won't survive long-term, so it was important businesses could quickly expand their outdoor seating.

Major cities like New York and London had embraced outdoor dining due to Covid-19 by closing off streets and claiming space to expand into, he said.

Auckland could do the same by putting up temporary barriers along some one-way roads or blocking sections of a lane along Ponsonby Road. However, the particulars are being finalised with Auckland Transport.

Makeshift café terraces that popped up across Paris last year became so popular they are now permanent summer fixtures.

Now that Covid-19 is well-established as being transmitted through the air, Baker said our friends are the outdoors and ventilation.

Baker also said indoor venue limits or mask requirements might be extended into alert level 1 to minimise the damage from any unexpected cases.

Auckland businesses could already apply for a licence to use the footpath in front of their premises, and Hills was seeking to accelerate approval times.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said Auckland's central city had lost more than $80m in consumer spending, and she hoped to see more innovative ideas to support local business.

Ponsonby Business Association manager Vivienne Rosenberg said businesses and restaurants were already discussing the possibilities of this idea.