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Burnt butter old fashioned at Nick and Nora's
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

Liquor licence freeze finally lifted in Sydney CBD and Kings Cross

It's part of a push to revitalise Sydney's entertainment precincts


An 11-year freeze on new liquor licences across Sydney CBD and Kings Cross has finally been lifted, paving the way for new bars and pubs to be able to operate in those areas. 

The freeze had applied to Kings Cross and parts of the CBD since 2009, and it was extended as part of the 2014 lockout laws across the entirety of central Sydney. It meant that there could be no more than 192 hotels and large bars in the CBD, and no more than 13 on-premises entertainment venues (such as theatres, live music venues and nightclubs) serving alcohol. The numbers were much smaller in Kings Cross, with just 12 hotel and large bar licences and seven on-premises entertainment licences. Small bars were not included in the legislation, but it meant that a larger new venue could only open by buying an existing liquor licence. 

Industry lobby group the Night Time Industries Association (whose chairman, Michael Rodrigues, is also managing director of Time Out Australia) welcomed the change and said it had been a long time coming. The NTIA also said more was needed to revitalise Sydney's CBD.

"In addition to removing restrictions, governments need to be proactive in incentivising consumers to return to our CBDs, particularly at night," the NTIA said in a statement. "This could include free transport, free parking and subsidised entertainment. An acceleration in our cycleways program is a no-brainer. And in the medium term government should be working with the commercial property sector in relation to increasing the residential mix including affordable housing options in our city centres."

The lifting of the liquor licence freeze will come into effect on December 1, 2020. Although the NSW government has lifted its crippling lockout laws in Sydney CBD, they remain in place in Kings Cross. 

All this have you thirsty? Grab a drink at one of Sydney's best bars, but be mindful of social distancing.


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