The last of the controversial lockout laws will be lifted from Kings Cross to try revive Sydney’s nightlife, which was hit even harder from COVID-19.
Since 2014, lockout laws were introduced following the tragic death of Thomas Kelly in a one-punch attack. Although people sympathised with the motivation, the lockout laws were heavily criticised for their severity and lack of nuance.
After years of complaints, closures and movements like ‘Keep Sydney Open,’ NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian removed the lockout laws in January last year from CBD venues – with the exception of Kings Cross.
The economic impacts on the nightlife industry from the lockout laws were exacerbated by COVID-19 regulations. Now, Berejiklian has changed her tune.
Upcoming Changes From March 8:
- Patrons can enter Kings Cross venues after 1.30am
- Drinks can be served until 3.30am (instead of 1.30am)
- Restrictions on certain drink types and glass tumblers after midnight removed
- Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) marshals and CCTV surveillance requirements removed
Commenting on the initial law reversals, Berejiklian said:
“Kings Cross has transformed considerably since these laws were introduced over six years ago…The precinct is now well-positioned to continue to evolve into a vibrant lifestyle and cultural destination with a diverse mix of small bars, live music venues and restaurants.”
But many say the damage is already done. The City of Sydney conducted an inquiry and found that the laws had “significant negative impacts on Sydney’s cultural life, our reputation as a global city, our businesses and our tourism industry”.
“The [current policy] approach has led to significant unintended negative impacts such as a retraction of the economy by 7.1 per cent, with a potential opportunity cost of 2202 jobs and $1.4 billion in turnover,” the council’s submission said.
Not only financially hit, many lament the cultural impact on Kings Cross and Sydney nightlife as a whole. Closures of the renowned World Bar, Hugos and Trademark were some of the biggest losses.
“In the name of killing violence we have instead killed culture, with violent incidents merely being displaced,” David Novak, member of band Polish Club, wrote in a Junkee article.
Nowadays, people have shifted over to suburbs like Newtown for pub hangs, bars and late-night eats. Many simply just stay at home and organise gathos. It’s difficult to picture whether the reversal of lockout laws would fully restore the Cross. Especially whilst the threat of COVID-19 still looms.
After the LockOuts
Check out our special feature length documentary, After the LockOuts – The Search for Sydney’s Missing Nightlife which explores the many devastating effects that the lockout laws have had on the night culture and overall vibrancy of Sydney.
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