A multi-million dollar grants program to transform Melbourne's footpaths and streets into open-air dining areas after lockdown has opened to businesses.
Under the state government's roadmap, Melbourne's bars, cafes and restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining from October 19 if certain COVID-19 case triggers are met.
City businesses can apply for grants of up to $10,000 from Thursday to extend dining onto footpaths, streets and laneways in a program that drew inspiration from New York's Open Restaurants initiative.
The grants scheme is part of the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund announced in mid-September and jointly funded by the state government and the City of Melbourne.
The Melbourne council said there were 2390 cafes and restaurants within its bounds, but only 800 venues have outdoor dining permits at present.
Free temporary permits will be handed out to eligible businesses to aid the "step three" transition.
In new detail revealed on Thursday, six key dining precincts were identified as spots where traders would take over sections of on-street car parking, footpaths and, in certain cases, street space.
These include Bourke Street East, Russell Street, Lygon Street in Carlton, Errol Street in North Melbourne, Domain Road in South Yarra and Bellair Street in Kensington.
"We expect outdoor dining to be so popular with patrons this summer that it will become a permanent feature of our city for generations to come," City of Melbourne chief executive Justin Hanney said in a statement.
"We encourage business owners to keep coming forward with ideas because we want to see our cafes, restaurants and retail stores thriving again."
Hospitality businesses keen to temporarily move outside and small and medium-sized traders promoting COVID-safe practices are eligible for the cash injection.
The grants scheme is open until 11.59pm on October 23 and successful applicants will be announced in two rounds.