Sydney’s Lockout Laws Are Ending Tomorrow, Here’s What You Need To Know

Some changes will impact all of New South Wales.

Sydney lockout laws ending photo

Nearly five years after they were first introduced, Sydney’s controversial lockout laws are finally being scrapped.

The announcement was made by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in November last year, after an inquiry into the laws revealed their devastating impact on the city’s nightlife and economy.

Musicians, promoters, and industry bodies such as APRA AMCOS and ARIA made submissions to the inquiry, which was lead by Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Among the most alarming evidence given to the committee was the revelation that the city had seen a 10 percent drop in under-35s visiting the city since 2013, and had suffered the loss of nearly half of its live music venues — including iconic nightspots such as World Bar, Goodgod, Backroom, Soho, and Hugo’s.

“Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our nightlife to reflect that,” the premier told reporters when announcing the end of the laws. “The nighttime economy is a key driver of jobs in our city and we need to do everything we can to strengthen it. Community safety will always be a major focus for my Government, but we certainly need a balanced approach.”

From Tuesday January 14, the changes that were implemented in February 2014 will be thrown out. That means the 1.30am lockout that currently exists in the CBD and Oxford Street will be lifted, and ‘last drinks’ rule will be extended until 3.30am.

Restrictions on serving cocktails, shots, and drinks served in glass after midnight will be removed, and bottle shop hours across NSW will now extend until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with an 11pm closing time on Sunday.

Notably, the lockout and ‘last drinks’ laws remain in place for Kings Cross — a decision that has angered club owners in the district.

“We weathered the lockouts for over five years and now we’re told that everyone else is being released, but not us,” George Tulloch, marketing manager for Bayswater Road club Candys Apartment, told Music Junkee last year.

“We welcome the lockout removal but find it absolutely disgusting that Gladys Berejiklian and her pack of NSW Liberal Party cronies could possibly hear the pain and suffering their laws have wrought on our family and think that we’re still part of the problem.”

The NSW Government has also warned the public there will be a “visible police presence” on Sydney streets this weekend. “I expect, like any Friday or Saturday night, people will be able to see a visible police presence,” NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres told The Sydney Morning Herald.  

“We’ve seen what happens when Sydney vacates the field in terms of responsibility. We want people to enjoy themselves, but to do so responsibly. This is an opportunity for Sydney to really shine.”

The decision to introduce the changes on a weekday was to give businesses the time to adjust before the weekend.

Health authorities are not happy with the changes, with hospital spokesman David Faktor telling the SMH they are concerned about potential increases in alcohol-related injuries.

“It might not happen overnight, but the evidence on providing greater access to alcohol leading to more alcohol-related harms suggests that’s what we will see in the coming weeks and months,” Faktor told the Herald. 

“As we made clear when opposing these increased trading hours, we are concerned we will see increases in serious head injuries stemming from assaults right through to more minor injuries from falls by revellers who will now be drinking for longer and will be more intoxicated.”

See the list of changes to the laws below.

Sydney Lockout Laws Changes

  • Removal of 1:30am lockout for all licensed venues in the Sydney CBD and Oxford Street
  • Extension of ‘last drinks’ to 3.30am
  • Removal of restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight
  • Bottle shop opening hours across NSW extended until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing time on Sunday

Photo Credit: Keep Sydney Open