In a bid to end alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney the NSW government passed the proposal for city-wide lockout laws. The Sydney lockout laws began at 1:30am on February 14, 2014. Patrons are no longer able to enter venues after 1:30am and after 3am alcohol is permitted from being served in the Sydney CBD Entertainment precinct.
Where does it apply?
The Sydney CBD Entertainment precinct includes venues in Darlinghurst, Cockle Bay, The Rocks, Haymarket and Kings Cross and some parts of Surry Hills (see map below).
The lockout law
The law states that the following drinks must not be sold or supplied on the licensed premises on any night of the week after midnight until closing or,
- any drink (commonly referred to as a “shot”, “shooter”, or “bomb”) that is designed to be consumed rapidly
- any drink containing more than 50% spirits or liqueur
- any “ready to drink beverage” containing more than 5% alcohol
- any drink prepared on the premises that contains more than 30mls of spirits or liqueur
- no drinks are to be served in glass between midnight and 7am
The law goes on to include the “lockout” of new patrons at 1:30am with last drinks to be served before 3am.
The consequences of not abiding by the legislation are significantly worse for establishments than for individuals. Venues will be slapped with a penalty notice can be issued for a breach of a liquor licence condition. The maximum court imposed penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.
For individuals who are found to be intoxicated in a public place they will be asked to "move on" by police and in failing to do so will be taken to a sobering-up centre and given a fine of $200.
“Mr Callinan found that the lockout laws introduced in February 2014 have resulted in ‘much safer, quieter and cleaner areas’,” Mr Baird said.
Since the implementation of the laws over four years ago there has been a “dramatic reduction in assaults and alcohol-related crime,” a NSWPF spokesman said.
But for local businesses owners, the laws have had the opposite effect. The owner of Beauchamp Hotel, Claude Bereny has estimated a reduction in foot traffic in the area by 70 per cent.
“It’s created an unlevel playing field, it didn’t solve the problem (of crime) but moved from one area to another,” Mr Bereny said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
In 2017 the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released a report which evaluated the effectiveness of the lockout laws. The report indicated that whilst there was a 49 per cent decline in non-domestic assaults in the Kings Cross precinct there had been a 16.7 per cent increase in assaults in areas outside of the lockout zone as patrons turn to new venues for late night drinking.
Since the implementation of the laws in 2014 more than 50 per cent of the venues in the Kings Cross area has closed. Outside of Kings Cross the effect has taken its toll with the closure of multiple iconic venues such as The Midnight Shift, Love Machine, Porky’s, DreamGirls and the Exchange Hotel.