The NSW Government has announced a $66 million “Al Fresco Restart Package” to give outdoor dining, live music and entertainment a boost post-lockdown.

Five thousand hospitality businesses will each receive a $5000 grant to help them set up permanent outdoor dining. That could include curbside seating, a courtyard, reinventing a carpark or even setting up in a nearby park. As part of that, outdoor-dining planning rules piloted last year – that allow pubs and small bars to temporarily set up al fresco dining on footpaths and in other public spaces – have been made permanent. All pubs and small bars can now apply to use those spaces to expand their outdoor-dining footprints.

And new “emergency” temporary al fresco measures for hospo businesses have also been introduced. Venues can apply to use parks and privately owned spaces to serve food and drinks; councils can set up pop-ups on public land; and registered clubs can temporarily alter outdoor spaces such as bowling greens and carparks into al fresco drinking and dining spaces. Applying to do so has also been streamlined – businesses don’t need to lodge a planning application with the government, they just need to seek landowner or council approval.

Plus, a year-long initiative called the Festival of Place will take place across NSW to reinvigorate the state and make the most of public spaces post-lockdown. Think murals, art installations and laneway cinemas. Funding includes $15,000 to all NSW councils to offer free activations and events in public spaces; $500,000 grants to councils to trial projects with the aim to permanently reinvigorate and strengthen high streets and their surrounding areas; and The Rocks, Darling Harbour and The Domain will get outdoor dancefloors, live music, theatre and comedy shows during the summer.

“After many months in lockdown, the people of NSW are ready to enjoy themselves, so we’ve thrown out the rule book with new temporary alfresco measures, while also making last year’s trials permanent,” said NSW minister for planning and public spaces Rob Stokes in a statement.

“In addition to the permanent easing of rules for dining on footpaths and public spaces, we’re temporarily allowing outdoor dining on privately owned bowling greens and carparks, meaning businesses can expand outdoors on almost any piece of land they own to welcome more customers.”