Almost six years after they were first implemented, the controversial Sydney lockout laws are set to be scrapped across much of the CBD this January.
Back in early 2014, then-NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell made a knee-jerk response to late-night violence across the state by implementing a series of highly-controversial lockout laws across the state.
The new legislation meant that 1:30am lockouts (and a 3am call for last drinks) were now being enforced in venues across the entertainment precinct of the Sydney CBD, including Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Cockle Bay, The Rocks, and Haymarket.
Understandably, this news was met with severe backlash by almost everyone in the country, with many criticising the government’s response as short-sighted, and one that would cripple the state’s nightlife and reputation as a global hotspot.
Following years of rallies, petitions, and passionate pleases to Keep Sydney Open, Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the astonishing decision to scrap the controversial laws across most of the CBD back in September.
Now, more than two months on, we’ve finally learnt when these changes will take effect, with the lockout laws set to be scrapped across Sydney (with the exception of Kings Cross) on January 14th.
Sydney’s night-time economy will be given a boost with the lifting of lockout laws on 14 January 2020. No change for Kings Cross. pic.twitter.com/cPxBHvnHe5
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) November 28, 2019
In a statement released today, Berejiklian stated that while these initiatives “had undoubtedly made Sydney safer”, the time is now right to revitalise the city’s nightlife.
“Sydney has transformed dramatically over recent years, and we need to ensure we have a strong and vibrant night-time economy that reflects our position as Australia’s only truly global city,” Ms Berejiklian explained.
“Following a detailed review of the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations, we will implement changes over summer to ensure Sydney has a thriving, safe and diverse night life that can be enjoyed by all.
“While the extended trading hours will provide a boost for the night-time economy, community safety will always be a focus.”
In uncharacteristic fashion though, this isn’t the only bit of good news that comes with this announcement.
In addition to removing a 1:30am last entry restriction, along with serving restrictions for beverages in glass past midnight, bottle shop opening hours have also been extended across the state until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with an 11pm closing on Sunday.
Likewise, “venues with good records” will receive a 30-minute extension on their last drinks call, while the patron capacity of small bars across the state has increased from 100 to 120.
In a statement, Eventbrite APAC GM Josh McNicol claimed that this was undoubtedly a good move for the state, but there is plenty left to be done in order to undo the damage caused.
“We welcome today’s announcement, but also acknowledge the long road ahead for local venues and promoters who’ve had their businesses decimated by these laws,” he explained.
“Winding back the lockout is a good first step, but local venue owners are telling us that they need the NSW Government to go one step further and offer dedicated support to help recover lost patronage and rebuild the city’s nighttime economy.”
Undoubtedly, this is good news except for all of those in Kings Cross, but we can’t deny its a step in the right direction for Sydney to finally reclaim the nightlife it has cruelly been robbed of for so long.