Cheers, Sydney! Lockout Laws Are Getting Cut-Off After Huge Review

Ok Google, play Closing Time.

After years of aggressive pre-game scheduling to have a good night out, Sydneysiders can calmly drink to celebrate lockout laws getting the boot. Well, mostly.

A parliamentary committee has conducted a review on the laws in the CBD and come back with a stash of top-shelf recommendations for Sydney’s Night Time Economy.

The report offers 40 recommendations to rejuvenate the 2014 lockout laws in an effort to both uphold patrons’ security and to ensure the survival of Sydney’s night time economy.

But perhaps the biggest one was scrapping the 1:30am lockout across the CBD. That is, except for Kings Cross.

The Cross has been dubbed a hot-spot of tragic and deadly “anti-social behaviour” that prompted the instigation of the laws in 2014.

And, although non-domestic assaults have “decreased by 52.8 percent” since 2014, which is “roughly 1,921 fewer assaults”, the committee fears that lifting the restrictions would be detrimental to patrons’ safety.

…due to the historical nature of Kings Cross, venue density and the small size of the precinct, there is a high risk that if the 2014 laws were removed, violence would increase and the rate of assaults would begin to rise again.

More top tier recommendations include scrapping the midnight shot ban, 3 am last drinks, and extending bottle shop takeaway hours. And that’s all to be done “with appropriate urgency”.

The committee advised that any removal of the lockout laws be reviewed in 12 months to determine their appropriateness, focusing on “assault levels, the feedback of businesses and the impact on the economy”.

Kings Cross has until then to make sufficient changes to diversity and density and “warrant regulatory relaxations”.

More recommendations include 24-hour public transport (including incentivising late-night taxi operation), reducing operating hours for ID scanners (after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays only), and reducing penalties on self-reporting venues, and rewarding self-enforced security efforts.

The committee also requests that the Sydney Council continue efforts to make Kings Cross more “pedestrian friendly” by eliminating black spots, improving signage, and increase lighting and amenities.

You can read the full report here.

And the recommendations weren’t just for improving alcohol-related activities.

The report makes a number of recommendations to further support Sydney’s night-time economy, away from the clubbing scene. They include simplifying pathways for new and existing smaller bars, music and entertainment venues to thrive, and encouraging the use of under-utilised government spaces as pop-up cultural spots.

And while some say the damage is done, I would like to think there’s still hope for Sydney to make a miraculous return to nightlife glory.

In addition to safety measures, proactive steps should now be taken to encourage and support the growth and innovation in the night time economy.

More to come.

Image Sources: Unsplash

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