ICONIC Sydney gay bar The Midnight Shift is to dramatically cut its hours from the end of the month with the blame being laid at the feet of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s recently-passed lockout laws.
The bar will remain open from 2pm – late from Thursday to Sunday each week.
Venue coordinator Leigh Harder said following the introduction of NSW’s new lockout laws in late February, revenue generated on the weekend was no longer sufficient to cover the operating costs on the quieter days of the week.
“Since the new lockouts have come into force customers and bar take has fallen on the weekend and that makes it more difficult to open earlier in the week,” he said.
The NSW Government introduced the laws on February 24 forcing venues in central Sydney to enforce 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks. The government said the lockouts were a central element of its crackdown on drug and alcohol-fuelled violence.
Darlinghurst pub Gay Bar closed suddenly less than a fortnight after the new laws came into place, although its operators have not confirmed the exact reasons behind its closure.
The Midnight Shift has confirmed staff hours will be cut as a result of the closure and there will be less shifts for local DJs.
Asked if he had anything to say to the NSW Government and its lockout laws, Harder said: “My mother told me if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
“The lockout is supposed to reduce violence and yet our venue has a good record and in the end it’s our customers who are being affected by these new laws.
“The new laws are unfair to venues to venues up and down Oxford St and unfair to our customers.”
Harder apologised to the Shift’s loyal customers: “We didn’t want this to happen but it’s something we have had to if we want to keep going. We need to adapt to survive.
“We will be moving some of our events – such as Bingay and our poker and pool nights – to later in the week so customers don’t miss out,” he said.
AHA NSW has warned more iconic city venues may be forced to cut back hours – or even close down – following news Oxford Street venue the Midnight Shift will now only operate four days a week.
As venue management have attributed the cutbacks to the State Government’s recently imposed 1.30am lockouts and 3.00am last drinks, this drew criticism from the hotel industry body.
“The concerning thing is that this may just be the beginning, I think we are going to see a lot more venues cut back their hours and even close down over coming weeks and months as a result of the Government’s actions,” John Green, the Director of Policing for AHA New South Wales said.
“In Newcastle we saw over 20% of hospitality jobs lost as a result of the lockout and other laws put in place up there. The number of late trading venues dropped from 14 to four, and some of those have wound their hours back to weekends also – based on advice we expect it to be even worse in Sydney.”