WITH only five months remaining until the Brisbane lockout law come into full effect, venues are gearing up for the change.

People are already starting to fear the worst after witnessing the destruction similar laws left in Sydney.

In March 2015, the lockout laws were introduced to the Sydney CBD, stopping people from entering venues after 1.30am, cutting excessive alcohol consumption and shutting down venues at 3am.

With this came the closure of many landmark Sydney venues, including Cargo Bar, Exchange Hotel, Flinders Hotel, Hugos Bar and Lounge, Soho, Lansdowne Hotel, Goldfish Bar and this is just to name a few.

While the party scene died in Sydney, in Brisbane the opposite happened: clubs became stronger, venues opened and owners invested billions into the club/party scene.

On a typical Saturday night in the Fortitude Valley mall, you can see thousands of people filling the streets and heading from club to club. The LGBTI community queuing into The Wickham, Sportsmans Hotel, The Beat Mega Club and many diverse venues in the area.

At 1am the streets are full of people and the vibe, electric.

But this will change with Queensland enforcing what was and is to be the toughest lockouts in Australia to combat alcohol-fuelled violence, which was spurred on by the death of 18-year-old Cole Miller in January of this year.

The new Queensland lockout laws were gradually introduced in July this year when last drinks were pushed to 2am across Queensland, with no ‘high-alcohol’ drinks after midnight, while late trading venues in one of the state’s 15 entertainment precincts saw last drinks at 3am. From February 2017, those venues trading until 3am will have to introduce a 1am lockout.

After talking to venue owners, management and patrons in the Brisbane area this weekend, it seems like time to prepare for the worst.

Neil McLucas, owner for over 20 years of the popular LGBTI hangout Sportsman Hotel said “we have seen many things over the years, and this could have a real impact on the community. The Sportsmans usually closes around 3 am, but will have to abide by the new laws and close at 2am”.

Earlier this year, Nick Braban, secretary of Out Nightlife Queensland, estimated around 6,000 jobs in Queensland to go, with a $150 million hit to the economy and about 80 venues shutting their doors.

One regular party-goer said, “There is a high chance we will start to see a similar pattern as Sydney, where people will start to either party away from the venues or pre-fuel at home and head to clubs for the lock in at 1am”.

“We are pretty confident things won’t change too much for us at The Wickham Hotel,” said one of the duty managers, “Normally we lose a lot of our clientele around 12am/1am to other venues”.

The Wickham Hotel has come under a lot of pressure recently with the LGBTI community being quite vocal about LGBTI events being cancelled and rumours that the popular LGBTI venue is pulling away from the community.

“We will continue to be a diverse venue and look after all our clientele, no matter who they are. We hope everyone will still give us their support, even after the lockouts take effect”.

With so many hotels, clubs and small bars offering different entertainment experiences at their venue, it is to be sadly expected that these lockout laws will have a very similar effect to the Sydney ghost town, if not worse.

What we can do to help is support the venues and learn to live with these lockouts for now and stand by the people that will lose as a direct consequence of these severe laws.

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