Sydney’s nightlife will be re-energised post COVID-19, with the NSW Government lifting the long-standing freeze on new liquor licences in the CBD and relaxing restrictions on late trading.
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the removal of these restrictions would boost Sydney’s night time economy once COVID-19 measures are eased. The trading restrictions for existing venues ended on 1 June, while the NSW Government works with stakeholders on a framework for approving new licences.
It is expected that the Government will allow applications for new licences later in the year, following public consultation.
“These changes will kick-start a new era in Sydney’s 24-hour economy, giving new venues a start, and allowing existing pubs, clubs, hotels and bottle shops a chance to adjust their offerings to meet changing customer demand,” Mr Dominello said.
“In some CBD locations, this will be the first time in 11 years that applications for new venues will be considered.”
The licence freeze was put in place as part of measures targeting alcohol-related harm in areas with high concentrations of liquor businesses. It has prevented the granting of new licences for hotels, nightclubs, registered clubs and packaged liquor outlets across the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross precincts.
The freeze has also restricted existing licensees from extending late night trading hours and, in most instances, from changing their licensed boundaries and patron capacity.
To ensure risks of alcohol-related harm continue to be managed, the NSW Government is preparing interim guidelines for existing businesses which will detail eligible locations for applications as well as criteria for easing trading restrictions from 1 June.
“The interim guidelines are being driven by relevant evidence and data, including the latest geospatial tools showing the density of licensed premises as well as hotspots for alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour,” Mr Dominello said.
Today’s announcement follows the recently released draft Exposure Bill on the 24-hour Economy, which aims to create a vibrant and safe 24-hour economy.