On Tuesday, the NSW government announced it is investing $500 million in a new scheme aimed to encourage Aussies to return to their local restaurants, cafés and cinemas in a bid to spur the post-COVID economic recovery.
Under the scheme, NSW residents, over the age of 18, will receive four $25 vouchers to use at participating eligible NSW businesses and venues who are registered as COVIDSafe.
The Out and About scheme will be divided into two categories:
- dining out – two vouchers can be used to purchase food at venues such as restaurants, cafés, pubs and clubs
- going out – two vouchers can be used for activities, such as visiting cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas and amusement parks
The program will be rolled out across the state from late January, but for it to be a success, businesses must first sign up.
While the finer details are yet to be announced, including eligible participating industries, the NSW government has published several eligibility guidelines.
According to these, businesses are required to have implemented a COVID safety plan and they must:
- have a MyServiceNSW account
- be operating in NSW in one of the eligible industries (details to come)
- have a valid bank account
- have an active Australian business number (ABN) as of 31 October 2020 and be registered for goods and services tax (GST)
COVID-safe businesses will be able to use their MyServiceNSW business profile to manage the scheme for their business.
“The dining and entertainment industries were among the hardest hit by the pandemic and I would encourage people to utilise this scheme once it is up and running and to make sure they spend a bit extra on the way through, too,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said on Tuesday.
The NSW scheme mirrors a similar initiative in the UK, the Eat Out to Help Out program, which in August saw the consumption of 100 million meals from 84,700 establishments.
The scheme has, however, come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with new research suggesting it could in fact have caused a sixth of new coronavirus case clusters over the summer. The Treasury has rejected these claims.