Back in September, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that she would be repealing Sydney’s controversial lockout laws—a slice of news that saw the city’s creative community breathe a collective sigh of relief.
"It's time to enhance Sydney's night-life… we need to step it up," Ms Berejiklian said in a statement to the AAP.
Today, it's been revealed that the lockout laws will be dropped in the CBD and Oxford Street as of January 14, 2020.
"Sydney is Australia's only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that."
As for precisely what changes will take place, you'll be able to get into a venue after 1.30am in the CBD and Oxford Street. You'll be able to get shots and cocktails after midnight and, happily, you'll be able to hit up any bottleshop in NSW until midnight Monday through Saturday, and 11pm on Sundays.
Since the introduction of the curfew and bar service cut-off times in 2014, night-time violence has waned and there are some non-insignificant figures that suggest lockouts served their purpose in making the streets a bit safer.
But there's always more to the story: a heap of businesses closed (about 176 venues), the city lost a whole lot of potential profit (about $16 billion), visitors to Kings Cross halved and crime seemed to shift over to areas just outside the lockout zone (reported incidents rose by 17% in Bondi, Newtown, Double Bay and Coogee).
The truth of the laws' real impact versus their effectiveness is a tough picture to paint—but one less quantitative thing seems to be true. We all lost faith in the potential of Sydney. Our urban culture has been suffering; Merivale boss Justin Hemmes called the lockouts “embarrassing” (apparently there was a time Madonna got locked out of Ivy for her own afterparty), and when The Economist listed Sydney as the third most liveable city in the world this year, no one was ready to own it.
With the shiny new light rail nearly ready to roll in the CBD, Berejiklian has laid out her intentions to remove lockouts in the CBD only. With “community safety” still a primary concern for the Government, Kings Cross’s curfew will remain in place.
So, are Sydney's best days ahead of us? We sure hope so.
Image credit: James Adams