The O’Farrell government has confirmed it will not exempt the Mardi Gras weekend from Sydney’s new lockout laws, which will be imposed from February 24.
Originally flagged for introduction in April, the restrictions will mean patrons are denied entry to licensed premises after 1.30am and last drinks are called at 3am, within an expanded CBD precinct.
The new rules will be in force on Oxford Street, home of the Mardi Gras, and the zone has been specifically drawn to include popular venues Arq and the Flinders Hotel.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore had expressed her hope that the government could lift the regulations for the festival.
“It’s something the city can ask the government to do,” she said. “I know the thousands of people that will be gathering would like to think that it could be treated as a very special night by the government”.
City News understands the Lord Mayor made this request at a briefing with the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing last week. The OLGR informed council that any exemption must be applied for by an individual venue.
A spokesperson for hospitality minister said no representation from the City had been made at the ministerial level.
“The office of George Souris is yet to receive any correspondence on the issue of Mardi Gras exemptions from the City of Sydney council,” the spokesperson said.
“The Mardi Gras will not be granted an exemption. Exemptions won’t be granted for major events.”
The Mardi Gras parade is being held on March 1 and finishes outside of the entertainment precinct, however, many of the celebrations happen back inside the restricted zones.
“People will be celebrating, and there will be a time after the parade when people will want to continue on and celebrate with their friends,” said Sydney Mardi Gras co-chair Siri Kommedahl.
The official after party at the Entertainment Centre is outside of the restricted zone and will proceed as planned. But other Mardi Gras parties planned for the final weekend are within the zone and will be affected by the early lockouts and cease of service.
“The 2am pub lockouts will damage our international reputation and tourism during Mardi Gras. You need to stop it, Clover!” one Twitter user posted.
Premier Barry O’Farrell has warned venues any failure to comply can result in fines of up to $11,000 and imprisonment of up to 12 months.
With Michael Koziol