In light of the recent NSW parliamentary enquiry into “Sydney’s Night time Economy” there has been a push for major liquor law reform to restore the city’s night time entertainment scene. This has resulted in a number of changes to liquor laws, including lockout laws in the Sydney CBD – as well as changes to small bar licences across NSW.
Currently, the lock-out changes only operate in the Sydney CBD, however if the liquor-licencing changes in Sydney prove to be successful, this could very likely be the catalyst for reforms extending to other lockout precincts, including Newcastle.
In simple terms, the major changes that have been implemented From January 14:
1.30am lockout laws are lifted around the Sydney CBD entertainment district, except for venues classified as ‘level 1 violent venues’ and the Kings Cross precinct, where these laws remain in place.
Last drinks extended from 3am to 3.30am.
Post-midnight restrictions on the sale of certain drinks, including shots, are lifted.
Bottle shops will be able to extend their opening hours to midnight on Monday - Saturday and 11pm on Sunday.
Small bars, micro breweries and small distilleries patron capacity increases from 100 patrons to 120 patrons (across the state).
There will be the option for certain licensees to convert their on-premise general licence to a small bar licence through a free process up until February 2021.
Interestingly, the parliamentary enquiry placed some focus on small bars, putting forth a number of submissions in relation to increasing the favourability of the small bar business model to licensees and business owners. Evidence suggests night time violence is far less of a risk at smaller venues with a capacity of less than 120 patrons. The increase of patronage was a bid to “encourage the growth of ‘small bars’, whilst also promoting diversity in Sydney’s night time economy”.
If you believe any of these reforms apply to you, please do not implement these prior to consulting the conditions set out in your liquor licence or development consent. If you are unsure, you should consult the Office of Liquor & Gaming NSW or seek legal advice.
Our specialised commercial team at Jenkins Legal Services are highly experienced in, and provide up to date, detailed advice in relation to all facets of liquor licencing. If you would like more information, or need any assistance with a current or future liquor licence, including small bar licences, please get in touch.