Sydney's Lockout Laws Are Finally Dead From Jan 14
The NSW government will finally scrap the controversial lockout laws from mid-January, but some of the restrictions will still remain.
State premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Thursday that the laws -- which mandate 1.30am lockouts in Sydney CBD pubs and clubs -- will be largely lifted from January 14.
Kings Cross will remain under the regime, Berejiklian said, but party hotspots in Surry Hills, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst and elsewhere will be free of the restrictive regulations in just a matter of weeks.
The 3.30am 'last drinks' rules, however, will remain across the city, but some venues with good records may be permitted to extend this time limit by 30 minutes.
Other changes will see the removal of restrictions on serving drinks in glass cups after midnight, and allowing small bars to up their capacity from 100 to 120.
A statewide rule forcing bottle shops to close by 10pm will also be changed, meaning they can operate until midnight from Monday to Saturday, and until 11pm on Sunday.
The government has pledged to review the changes in 12 months.
Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Night Time Industries Association, called the news "fantastic" and a "great start".
"Turning Sydney’s nightlife back on, isn’t as simple as flicking a switch - we’ll be taking our time to ensure the industry does its part to get Sydney back on track in a considered way," he said.
Berejiklian had signalled in September her willingness to reform the lockout laws, with exact details being ironed out in recent weeks.
In a July submission to the NSW government's lockout laws inquiry, the City of Sydney council claimed 2.5 million fewer young people visited the city since the laws came in, costing the state $1.4 billion.
"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,” Berejiklian said on Thursday.
“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."
Bar owners, musicians and others have long criticised the lockouts for their effects on the city's nightlife, including countless entertainment venues closing. Bar owners have claimed the city was being seen by visitors as a "no-go zone for any late-night activities and not worth going to anymore" and that the once-bustling Oxford Street precinct "nowadays starts to look like a ghost town after midnight on weekends".
A parliamentary report by the Joint Select Committee on Sydney's Night-time Economy in September advised the coalition government to lift the laws in the CBD, saying they cost NSW $16 billion a year.
The report -- a half-decade after the controversial restrictions came into force in the wake of alcohol-fuelled assaults in Sydney's nightlife district -- called for wholesale change in how NSW, and Sydney especially, polices alcohol and licensed premises.
Committee chair and Liberal MP Natalie Ward said she wanted people to "enjoy Sydney after dark". Deputy chair Alex Greenwich said the review was a plan "to bring the party back to Sydney in safe and vibrant way."
Despite recommendations for the main parts of the 2014 laws to be essentially trashed wholesale, the committee stressed that the restrictions "were both necessary and effective at the time they were implemented".
The committee reported that non-domestic assaults had dropped by nearly 53 percent in the lockout areas between January 2014 and March 2019, which they said equated to more than 1900 assaults.
Labor MP John Graham said there is "a lot more to do to repair the economic damage" from the laws.
More to come.