Today’s announcement of Covid restrictions easing in Victoria has made me a little more hopeful. Can’t wait to see friends and visit shops and eat out. Well done Victorians on making this happen.
But I am dreading outdoor dining (and outdoor events in general). My concerns aren’t just for me, but this post is how it applies to me, because I don’t speak on behalf of all disabled people. I have heard similar sentiments from many disabled friends, colleagues and social media followers – in Melbourne, other Australian states and overseas where outdoor dining is starting to happen.
Melbourne weather is temperamental. Summers are hot, but it can also be freezing in January. Life with ichthyosis means I hate outdoor events at the best of times.
Outdoor dining is not accessible for me because of the weather, and being unable to regulate my temperature, and needing to stay out of the heat in the summer.
Additionally, if dining is on footpaths, it will decrease space for wheelchair and scooter users and prams to travel.
I understand we need to have outdoor dining to reduce the risk of Covid, and to ensure restaurants can reopen.
But not everyone will be able to participate and enjoy it. I fear for many of us, we will continue to be isolated because we won’t be able to access the Covid normal.
I need to read more about the Victorian roadmap out of lockdown. But with the information delivered today, I’m worried.
Covid aside, it’s really hard to request accessibility at events, restaurants etc. (It’s been hard to ask for a seat while waiting for takeaway as current restrictions stand (pun intended.)
I dread having to call a restaurant & potentially argue my need for an indoor seat because I cannot dine outside.
Things that could help:
– A welcoming statement from restaurants to say they will try to meet access needs where they can.
– Enough indoor dining options.
– Not having to disclose disability when requesting access.
– Shade, heating and cooling outdoors.
– Enough room on footpaths for people mobility aids, prams etc to move past outdoor dining spaces.
– Blankets (cleaned after each use).
– Easy access to accessible toilets inside restaurants.
I hope Daniel Andrews, Martin Foley, Brett Sutton and all restaurants and cafes etc have an accessibility plan alongside their Covid safe plan, so that everyone can enjoy the easing of restrictions. I am here to consult if needed.
Also, no devil’s advocates please – I’m pretty tired.
Has this post helped you or made you think? Will you use it in your workplace? Please consider buying me a drink.