Arq nightclub will be shutting its doors earlier as part of a series of new initiatives designed to limit drug-related harm in the venue.

From now on, the Taylor Square superclub will close at 10am on Sundays and Mondays, and not allow new admissions after 7am. (Longer trading hours will continue on long weekends and on special event weekends.)

General manager Rick Walton told Sydney Star Observer this week that the club had implemented or would soon be implementing a number of new procedures in the wake of last month’s police raid. A water bubbler has been installed in the club’s gaming lounge, while staff will monitor the toilet areas more closely and security personnel will carry out more stringent searches of patrons coming through the door.

Arq’s managers said the new measures were part of a move to establish a new best practice for the management of nightclubs.

All venues should be adopting initiatives like this, said club owner Chris Curtis. We’re not going to turn Arq into a prison or make patrons feel that they’re second-class citizens, but we ask that [patrons act with] a reciprocal degree of responsibility.

Walton said he had been in contact with the operators of other venues in the precinct about setting up a group for the ongoing discussion of drug-impact issues. A first meeting of this group has been slated for the week following Sleaze Ball, he said.

There have been some media reports that the police were going to close Arq down, and that’s completely incorrect, Walton said. The police have no intention to close down Arq. That needs to be clarified.

The club management is considering a number of other best-practice initiatives to combat drug-related harm in the venue. Plans are in development for the conversion of the gaming area to a chill-out room, while club management are also looking at introducing an on-site medical station and a drug amnesty box -“ into which patrons could dump illegal drugs, with no questions asked, for later pick-up by the police. Walton stressed that the legal issues of such a box would have to be worked through with police, although local police officers had already expressed enthusiasm for the idea.

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