Pedestrianise Courtenay Place in Wellington to Help Local Businesses Survive Covid-19

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Covid-19 has had an immeasurable impact on the hospitality businesses in Wellington being unable to operate for so long during the lockdown. Many of these, especially the smaller venues located in the city centre, will also be very limited for future trade with the social distancing requirements. At this stage it seems inevitable that large numbers of staff will lose their jobs, and businesses will close down. 

Several city centres around the world including Milan, Italy and Vilnius, Lithuania have blocked cars and created pedestrian only zones to help with social distancing. These cities are allowing cafes, bars and restaurants to place tables outside in public spaces to enable them to operate within the social distancing requirements between patrons. While NZ has achieved great success in fighting the virus so far, there is no guarantee that we won't see a second wave of the pandemic, and face further restrictions.

We propose a move to close off Courtenay Place to traffic and allow businesses to use the street for socially distanced seating. Each cafe, restaurant or bar would provide their own seating, and monitor their patrons. This could be approached with a trial period beginning in the weekends, and if it proves successful then look at the possibility of extending it during the week, and creating more permanent structures. The street has been blocked off previously for large public events, with traffic and buses rerouted accordingly. There could also be further room for extra activity, for example food trucks, entertainers and stalls, if this was to become a permanent fixture. 

We believe this is a great opportunity to revive what could be one of the best entertainment districts in New Zealand. It would create safe spaces that can be enjoyed by all ages during the day, with no traffic, more walking and cycling, and a much more diverse entertainment offering not solely focussed on late nights. 

It is a novel time to trial such an opportunity, that could create very positive outcomes in terms of not only helping hospitality and other small businesses, but also help transform Courtenay Place into an area the city can be truly proud of.