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Sydney's Lockout Laws Will Be Wound Back in January 2020

Which means you'll be able to do shots after midnight, buy takeaway booze after 10pm and stay out drinking past 3am.
By Samantha Teague
November 28, 2019
By Samantha Teague
November 28, 2019

Five years after they were first introduced to curb alcohol-fuelled violence, Sydney's lockout laws are finally set to be lifted in the CBD. Premier Gladys Berejiklian first announced plans to repeal the lockouts back in September, and now we finally know when this will happen: January 14, 2020. So you'll be able to party late without worrying that you'll be left out in the cold.

The old lockout area stretches from Darling Harbour to Kings Cross and from The Rocks to Campbell Street in Surry Hills. The NSW Government will scrap the lockout for all venues in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct (below). They will, however, remain in place in the Kings Cross area.

The winding back of the lockout laws means a lot of big changes for venues in the above area — and not just the scrapping of the 1.30am last entry. All venues with good records will also be able to extend their last drinks from 3am to 3.30am and allow patrons to do — wait for it — shots after midnight. High-risk venues will also be able to serve cocktails and beverages in glass after midnight.

Also, in a big win for house parties and those who like drinking at home, all NSW bottle shops will be able to stay open until midnight from Monday to Saturday and 11pm on Sunday. The current state-wide 10pm closing time is being scrapped.

A freeze on new liquor licences for venues in the CBD and Kings Cross, which has been in place before the lockout laws back in 2009, will remain until June 2020, when it will be reviewed. This impacts large venues, and doesn't include small bars or pop-ups. You can read more about the decade-long licence freeze over here.

The announcement comes as the NSW Government releases its response to September's 126-page parliamentary inquiry into the state of Sydney's nighttime economy, which considered close to 800 submissions from business owners and industry members and made 40 suggestions. The NSW Government has responded to all of them, supporting 20, supporting another 18 "in principle", completing one and partially supporting the final — which recommended the small bar licence be increased to include venues with a limit of up to 130. The government has increased it to 120.

Kimberley Low.

Keeping the current lockout laws for Kings Cross is another one of the suggestions the NSW Government has supported. The September report called it a high-density area with a "high risk" that violence could increase again if the laws are lifted. To combat the density issue, the NSW Government has agreed to consider transferring licences out of Kings Cross (when it reviews the current liquor licence freeze next year) and will work with the City of Sydney improve safety for pedestrians. The government has agreed to take a look at how these changes impact the area and review the laws within 12 months.

While the CBD's nightlife and live music scene has struggled under the stifling legislation — and has seen institutions like The Basement close — the lifting of the lockout laws together with the City of Sydney's plans to introduce 24-hour trading to the CBD could mean big changes for the area. The repeal of the lockout laws would allow Sydneysiders to head into CBD bars, pubs and nightclubs after 1.30am — and those same venues to remain open after 3am — while the City of Sydney is hoping to encourage the 24-hour trading of unlicensed CBD businesses.

The lockout laws will be scrapped in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct from January 14, 2020. You can read the NSW Government's full response to the inquiry on Sydney's nighttime economy here.

Image: Double Deuce Lounge by Kimberley Low. 

Published on November 28, 2019 by Samantha Teague

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