Five years after they were introduced, the NSW Government has announced the state’s controversial lockout laws will be lifted in the Sydney CBD and Oxford Street from early next year.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said today that the restrictions will be rolled back from 14 January everywhere except Kings Cross, meaning patrons will once again be able to purchase cocktails and shots after midnight and enter venues after the 1.30am lockout. Bottle shop hours have also been extended across NSW.
“Sydney’s night-time economy will be given a boost with the lifting of lockout laws on 14 January 2020. No change for Kings Cross,” Berejiklian tweeted.
The lockout laws were introduced in February 2014 after a number of alcohol-related assaults and fatalities in Inner Sydney, including the one-punch death of teenager Daniel Christie. A 2015 report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed a 26 per cent reduction in assaults in the areas affected by the lockout laws.
However, the laws were criticised for harming Sydney’s nightlife, with some businesses reporting a loss of up to 40 per cent of their revenue, and a number of iconic pubs, clubs and bars were forced to close. A report by the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night-time Economy in September found the total cost to NSW to be $16 billion per year.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the lifting of the lockout laws is a “vital first step” in reviving Sydney’s nightlife and said she was looking forward to “fixing the damage”.
Opponents of the laws have celebrated the news on social media, including Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who tweeted that Sydney is “getting our groove back”.
“Looking forward to working with the Government and @cityofsydney to further strengthen and support a safe and vibrant night-time economy,” Greenwich tweeted.
Others questioned whether the change has come too late to make a difference to Sydney’s nightlife.
“Like raising the dead. Good luck, lotta damage has been done,” a Stonewall Hotel patron wrote on Facebook. “Will take years to replenish nightlife and venues re-opening.”
In the past, the lockout laws were temporarily relaxed for the Mardi Gras parade in 2018 and 2019. President of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association Mark Haines last year told the Star Observer that Oxford Street, Sydney’s main gay district, had become “unrecognisable” due to the laws.