The NSW Government will provide an exemption to lockout requirements at venues in the Oxford St area for the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on the weekend of 3-4 March.
Minister for Racing Paul Toole said the one-off exemption means patrons will be able to be admitted to venues in the area beyond the usual 1:30am or 2:00am restrictions. It follows arrangements for other major events, like the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross lockout exemption on New Year’s Eve, and the extension of Sunday night trading for certain hotels and registered clubs across NSW for the NRL Grand Final.
Sydney’s lockout laws have been extremely controversial since they were introduced three years ago in response to alcohol fuelled violence in some inner-city venues and on city streets, Opponents say they have robbed Sudney of much of its character, while supporters says it has decreased crime.
Under the Mardo Gras exemption, venues will still need to cease serving alcohol at their normal times of 3:00am on the morning of Sunday 4 March 4, or 3:30am for venues with live entertainment extensions, and comply with their other licence conditions.
“The NSW Government is pleased to relax the lockout laws as part of its support for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade,” Mr Toole said. “It’s an internationally-renowned event that attracts visitors from all over the world and injects around $40 million into the NSW economy each year.
“Relaxing the requirements will give people more time to make their way to surrounding venues and events when the parade finishes.” Mr Toole said NSW Police and Liquor and Gaming NSW inspectors will be present in the Oxford Street, Kings Cross and Sydney CBD precincts to ensure venues are providing a safe environment for people to celebrate.
The exemption comes after pressure from gay rights activist and Sydney City Councillor Christine Forster (Tony Abbott’s sister) and the Keep Sydney Open group, who asked Premier Gladys Berejiklian for rule change as “a special gesture of goodwill to mark this year’s 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations.”
Keep Sydney Open wrote on Facebook that “it is entirely appropriate that the lockouts be lifted on the night of the parade,” pointing out that The State Government has previously lifted lockouts during international sporting events and New Year’s Eve for both national significance and safety reasons.
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