Sydneysiders rejoice: the first venues set to receive exemptions to your nightlife-killing lockout laws have been announced.
Only days after NSW Premier and unapologetic mastermind of the mess Mike Baird announced his resignation, the government has revealed that CBD venues the Palace Hotel, Observer Hotel and ArtHouse Hotel can now admit patrons until 2am and serve drinks until 3.30am.
Deputy Secretary for Liquor, Gaming and Emergency Management at the NSW Department of Justice, Paul Newson, said that the government expects to announce more venues soon, with the department assessing a further 12 applications for the whopping 30-minute live entertainment extension:
“As venues have only been able to apply since late December and this is a busy time of year, more applications are expected in the next few weeks.
“Industry feedback suggests up to 50 venues could take advantage of the relaxed lockout and last drinks times.
“The changes are part of the Government’s commitment to creating a more vibrant nightlife for Sydney while keeping the focus on community safety. Live entertainment venues help provide a more diverse nightlife with less focus on alcohol consumption. Arts NSW is leading plans to boost Sydney’s night-time economy by implementing recommendations from a series of stakeholder roundtables held last year.”
Now, 30 minute extensions to three bars feels kind of slight, and the whole thing honestly reeks of token acknowledgement to the overwhelmingly-negative public reaction to these laws.
Still, today’s announcement is at least a start, and the government’s statement makes it clear the extensions are a response to the Honourable Ian Callinan AC QC’s independent statutory review of liquor laws, which was based at least in part on community consultation.
The government has since announced that they will adopt the following key recommendations:
A two-year trial from Monday 16 January of later 2am lockouts and 3.30am last drinks to be allowed via exemption for CBD and Kings Cross venues that offer live entertainment, live performances or arts and cultural events
An extension of trading times for takeaway and home delivery alcohol sales across NSW from 10pm to 11pm beginning from 16 December
Raising the patron limit for small bars from 60 to 100, and extending automatic 2am trading for eligible small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross.
With tomorrow’s ‘Keep Sydney Open’ protest getting successfully shut down by NSW Police, this all makes for a decidedly mixed-day for Sydney’s nightlife.
Here’s hoping the public pressure keeps up.
Source: NSW Department of Justice.