Products / Social / Outdoor dining in a COVID world

When the Victorian government announced the new COVID-safe outdoor dining precincts in the CBD, local hospitality businesses breathed a sigh of relief. But thoughts quickly turned to logistics. Where were all these people going to sit? How would traffic be affected? And how would we keep people safe from wind, rain and Melbourne’s classic 28 seasons in one day?

This is where SHADES came in.

Earlier this year, we teamed up with local events company, Harry The Hirer, to help deck-out the new Flinders Lane dining precinct. It was a big job. Most of our projects are private homes or commercial offices, and suddenly we needed to work out how to shade potentially hundreds of people, outside, in the middle of the city, without breaking COVID rules (or the client’s budget).

Harry The Hirer needed 88 individual awnings in just four weeks. That’s the sort of order that makes our warehouse guys reach for a strong coffee. Luckily, we had a great selection to choose from. All our awnings are German-engineered and made in Australia. They’re designed to be durable and wind-resistant, and they also block out glare and UV radiation.

This was a cost-effective solution for CBD restaurants, too, since awnings are a passive form of cooling: once they’re installed, the running costs are minimal, and they don’t need misting fans or complicated engineering. You can wind them out by hand, or with a simple motor.

Our team worked closely with the guys from Harry The Hirer and the state government to get the awnings up on time (and under budget). And the result was fantastic. COVID-19 has been devastating for local hospo businesses, and we were proud to play some small part in their recovery. In some ways, the pandemic has changed the way Melbourne uses Flinders Lane. With all the new undercover dining, the street feels more open and lively now. More European. A bit like Degraves Street or Centre Place. You get that buzz of outdoor conversation—perfect for long summer evenings.

I if you’re thinking about installing awnings yourself, you can browse or range over here. We’ve got a big selection of outdoor awnings and shade solutions. Our staff are always happy to walk you through the options.