Moyne Shire councillors have voted to restore strict guidelines for footpath business trading after the rules were relaxed during COVID-19 restrictions in 2020/21.
Many hospitality venues moved extra seating and larger furnishings onto the footpath in front of their shops when the state government placed restrictions on indoor food and drink consumption. When restrictions were removed earlier in the year, some businesses continued to conduct much of their trade on the footpath.
Council officers said the footpath trading led to "a number of community and trader complaints" about accessibility, and singled out Sackville Street, Port Fairy, as a particular problem area.
While most businesses reverted to pre-COVID trading conditions after requests from the council, a small number were reluctant. The newly adopted policy gives council officers the power to enforce the strict guidelines and fine businesses that don't comply.
Infrastructure and environment director Edith Farrell said the rules were "now in force".
"Local laws and economic development officers will begin street walks in the coming days to meet with traders and ensure they understand the new guidelines and to ensure accessibility requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act are being met," Ms Farrell said.
While some business owners were disappointed to lose the outdoor space, Cr Karen Foster said it was time to "adapt to a new COVID-normal of some description, so it's important to have uniform guidelines for everyone".
"I think it's been terrific that council has agreed to be so flexible through COVID and has been able to support our small businesses," Cr Foster said.
UPDATED - Tuesday
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