Goodbye Sydney CBD lockouts

Get ready Sydney, the time is now to put into action all those plans for bringing the night-time economy back to life. The lockout laws and other restrictions in the CBD and Oxford Street Entertainment Precinct are over.

As of tonight you can move between venues until 3.30am and you can enjoy a nip of Scotch or a cocktail after midnight – what a cosmopolitan city this is.

Flippancy aside, this is what industry associations have been working towards almost since the lockouts were introduced in 2014. More recently the work of rolling back the lockouts has focused on the overall night-time economy, how drinking culture has changed, how society and attitudes have changed so that we don’t go back to the way things were five or six years ago.

AHA NSW has campaigned hard for removing lockouts and worked with key stakeholders to focus on what will help restore Sydney’s global reputation.

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, told Bars and Clubs: “Removing the lockout laws, is probably the easy course of action, repairing Sydney’s night-time reputation and working together with stakeholders is what we all need to focus on now.

“In relation to the CBD and particularly Kings Cross, we are working closely with all stakeholders, which includes police, council and other industry associations just to make sure that Sydney’s night-life is revitalised without incident.

“This has been a team effort, working with other industry associations, but also with Government just to make sure that when this occurred, it was the right time, and I do think that is where we are now.”

He added: “This is an exciting time for Sydney. Even though the lockout has ended, I would like to remind all venue operators to continue to be vigilant at all times to properly assess people for signs of intoxication before allowing entry to licensed premises.”

NSW Independent Bars Association President Karl Schlothauer, agreed that while removing the lockouts is a positive step, no-one should be taking this for granted.

“This isn’t a done deal. The repeal of the lockouts and drink-based restrictions in Sydney’s CBD will be reviewed in 12 months so we need all licensed venues operating in the CBD to honour the commitments made during the parliamentary inquiry to ensure community safety.

“Patrons also have a role to play. We need mates to look out for each other and to know when to call it a night. We don’t want to see a return of heavy-handed regulations to the CBD, so we all need to do our bit to create a safe and vibrant nightlife.”

That is a sentiment echoed by CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia, Andrew Wilsmore, who said it was now time for people to show a more responsible attitude.

“This is a great opportunity for people to show how the drinking culture in Australia has really changed,” Wilsmore said.

“We want people to show that it’s possible to have a great time and still be responsible by ensuring they do the right thing- catch public transport or have a sober, designated driver, look after each other, drink lots of water, eat enough food and simply enjoy the new normal.

“Sydney’s night-time economy needs a lift and we urge people to make sure they have a night to remember for all the right reasons.”

The Night Time Industries Association Chair Michael Rodrigues welcomes the lifting of the lockouts, saying it’s the first steps in reviving Sydney.

“This is a turning point for the city and is the result of work by many across government, industry and the general public to get Sydney back on track,” Rodrigues said.

“Sydneysiders, alongside those who make our night-time great, are ready to see the first steps to a city revival.

“It’s fantastic the city will entertain locals and visitors in a diverse and inclusive nightlife without being rushed around venues closing early. It’s the beginning of Sydney getting its mojo back.

Removing lockouts was one of 40 recommendations by a Parliamentary Committee in a report which concluded a three-month inquiry into Sydney’s night-time economy in September last year.

The NSW Government has indicated its intention to have further consultation with industry and community groups before implementing the remaining recommendations, putting even more emphasis on the need for venue vigilance.

Schlothauer added: “The NSW Independent Bars Association stands willing and able to work with the NSW Government and stakeholders to implement changes that will reduce red tape for business owners and create a diverse night-time economy for Sydney and its many visitors.

“Sydney is the jewel in the crown with a habour-side location that is the envy of the world. Today we hit reset in the hope that Sydney’s sparkle returns and with it, our reputation as a nightlife destination.

“We are all responsible for ensuring that Sydney is a safe, inclusive and dynamic destination; one that we can all be proud to call home.”

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