Sydney prepares for lockout wind back

13 January, 2020 by Andy Young

The revival of Sydney’s night-time economy begins tomorrow with the lockout laws for the CBD Entertainment Precinct officially wound back.

The laws were introduced in 2014, but have seen hundreds of venues close down as local and international visitors have ventured elsewhere. The rollback of legislation will mean that trading hours will be extended for licensed venues and bottleshops within the Sydney CBD precinct, and that after-midnight drink regulations will be relaxed.

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When announcing the rollback, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the lockout initiative introduced had made Sydney safer, but that it was time for a change in the CBD.

That is a sentiment, today 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.”

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, also welcomed the removal of the lockout laws and agreed that this was a chance to revitalise Sydney’s night-life.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has campaigned for a holistic approach to fixing Sydney’s night-time economy with lifting the lockouts to be part of an overall scheme that brings more energy into Sydney at night.

NTIA 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.

“The lift demonstrates the Government recognises the value of the night-time economy and this is a first step to meaningful reform. It’s crucial we come together and build a nightlife hand-in-hand with all the night time stakeholders to ensure it’s positive and sustainable.

“We need to channel the spirit of Sydney in the late ‘90s as we prepared to showcase ourselves to the world during the 2000 Olympics. That effort saw all stakeholders come together: industry, health, police and transport, collaborating to produce a great result. We’ll be working with our members and the rest of the night time ecosystem to make sure we use this opportunity to rebuild Sydney’s nightlife, the right way.”

Venues across Sydney are now looking at enjoying their first lockout-free night for five years, with Australian Venue Co (AVC) saying each of its three Kings Street Wharf venues, Cargo, Bungalow 8 and The Loft will lift lockouts on their 3.30am licences.

“We are excited to lift the restriction and will be welcoming patrons into the venues until close. These three iconic venues which have been popular with Sydneysiders for over 18 years will be celebrating this exciting start to 2020 with DJs and entertainment every weekend,” said Paul Waterson, AVC’s Chief Executive Officer.

Oxford Art Factory (OAF), is also launching its first lockout free night of trade on Friday, 17 January.

“The 14th of January is a day in history when we, as providers of all things music and culture, are able to come back to some semblance of how we used to operate successfully five years ago. The OAF welcomes the changes to the lockout laws and will work to make those changes both safe and coherent additions to our trading hours for all who come to us. Onwards and upwards Sydney,” said Mark Gerber, CEO and Founder of OAF.

Rodrigues added that there is widespread ambition in the night-time industries, to move Sydney’s nightlife beyond alcohol.

“What other great cities of the world have is a ‘going out’ ecosystem that enjoys multifaceted entertainment, without it being singularly focused around drinking. Punters want choice. Licensed venues need to work out how they collaborate with the wider entertainment sector to provide a compelling reason for residents to come out and enjoy an evening filled with possibility,” he said.