Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) has praised the NSW government’s decision to relax closing times and last drinks restrictions at live entertainment venues.

The changes follow recommendations made in a review by Ian Callinan, which noted that some elements of the lockout laws could be relaxed but that overall, the restrictions have been effective in curbing alcohol fuelled violence in the city’s CBD and Kings Cross region.

As recommended by Callinan, a two year trial of a later 2am lockout and 3:30am last drinks will be allowed via exemption for venues that offer genuine live entertainment, live performances or art and cultural events. 

The government will also:

  • Increase the small bar patron capacity from 60 to 100 and providing automatic extended trading to 2am for small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross.
  • Retain mandatory ID scanners in Kings Cross.
  • Keep existing safeguards in CBD and Kings Cross precincts including drink and glass restrictions after midnight.
  • Make changes to the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme for venues that repeatedly commit serious offences under the Liquor Act, and the Minors Sanctions Scheme for venues that sell alcohol to under-18s.
  • Introduce a provisional approval system for low-risk venues such as restaurants and cafs so they can begin liquor trading as soon as they lodge an application.

R&CA CEO John Hart said the changes will encourage greater participation in late night entertainment while activating the city. Hart also indicated increasing the patron capacity of small bars from 60 to 100 improves operational efficiencies for businesses while providing an alternative atmosphere in which patrons can enjoy a drink late at night.

“The government has listened to the concerns of industry and the community and is balancing both. Recognising the low-risk profile of cafes, restaurants and small bars will encourage an alternative night-time culture in the city.

“Sydney has the largest night-time economy in Australia worth $3.5 billion. Cafes and restaurants generate more than half of this value at $1.9 billion. We need to recognise live music and low-risk venues are part of the solution in reinvigorating Sydney’s nightlife,” Hart said.  

“The changes will help further solidify the great reputation this city and state has for its hospitality by making it easier for businesses to operate sustainably.

“This is important to our economy but most important to tourism and visitor satisfaction. The changes represent a cautious response that will have a positive impact on businesses in our sector.”


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