The NSW state government will momentarily lift Sydney’s controversial lockout laws on New Year’s Eve, allowing patrons to enter pubs and clubs after 1:30am. The laws will be lifted to prevent punters from dangerously rushing to venues following the midnight fireworks display.
The Daily Telegraph reports, people will be able to enter licensed premises in the city and Kings Cross until 3am on New Year’s Eve, with last drinks remaining at 3am. Trading hours, and the no takeaway alcohol after 10pm rule, will remain unchanged.
The government say they’ve decided to temporarily lift the laws on advice from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the police force and the City of Sydney, who suggested that a later lockout will improve safety for the millions of New Year’s Eve revellers.
A key concern of Sydney authorities is the possibility of boats rushing to offload passengers between midnight and 1:30am if the lockout laws remain unchanged on New Year’s Eve. Deputy Premier and Liquor and Hospitality Minister Troy Grant’s office has told News Corporation this risked crowded wharves and people dangerously alighting from boats as they rushed to enter venues before the lockout.
“This is a commonsense approach for what is the biggest night on the Sydney calendar. Sydney is the greatest city in the world to spend New Year’s Eve and I want people to have fun, be safe and look after their mates,” Minister Grant said.
“We recognise people want to celebrate the start of the New Year — but we also want to maintain there will be no change to the last drinks at 3am or the tough measures we have implemented to protect the community,” he added. “This is about striking the right balance between common sense, industry and individual responsibility.”
Sydney’s lockout laws were passed by former Premier Barry O’Farrell in January, and have faced strong opposition from locals and small business owners. Statistics have shown an increase in pedestrian accidents since the laws were introduced, and a NSW committee have recommended the laws be reviewed at the “earliest possible stage”.
Despite the temporary lifting of the lockout laws being good news for Sydneysiders, it will likely cause some controversy, given the laws were introduced shortly after the fatal New Year’s Eve assault of 18-year-old Daniel Christie in Kings Cross in 2013.