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After decimating Sydney's vibrant nightlife, lockout laws set to be scrapped next month

9 February 2021 | 1:00 pm | Emma Jones

After six years, the NSW government has announced it will be overturning the controversial lockout laws for nightlife district Kings Cross.

Six years on from when they were first instated, the NSW state government's controversial lockout laws are set to be finally scrapped next month on March 8th. The laws were initially put in place after the death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly nine years ago due to a one-punch attack in the once-bustling nightlife district. They have been a major point of content since their inception and were repeatedly met with condemnation and protest, as well as a valiant attempt to continue to "Keep Sydney Open" despite the circumstances.

In attempt to restart the economy after nearly twelve months in a global pandemic, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the news on Tuesday, 9th February. NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said, "Kings Cross has transformed considerably since these laws were introduced over six years ago."

"The precinct is now well positioned to continue to evolve into a vibrant lifestyle and cultural destination with a diverse mix of small bars, live music venues and restaurants."

The rest of the city saw these lockout laws overturned in early 2020, but that was short-lived due to COVID-19 kicking off. As the SMH reports, the new laws will allow venues in the Cross to operate past 1:30am, with a last drinks call across the area at 3:30am. ID scanners will also be in place during peak operating hours, but restrictions on drinks, shots and cheap cocktails will also be lifted.

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This news comes after the City of Sydney's announcement in 2020 that they would be looking to revitalise the badly hit nightlife precinct. As the entertainment industry continues to suffer due to complying with tough COVID-19 restrictions, this is indeed a welcome change as we need all the help we can get. However, it is important to remember the very clear way that arts and entertainment have been valued in this country, and to not forget the significant cultural and economic losses brought onto the Cross and surrounds because of these laws in the first place.

Words by Emma Jones