Lockout laws in the Sydney CBD will be lifted again on New Years Eve to reduce street congestion, pressure on public transport and potential public safety risks.
More than 1 million people are expected in Sydney for the iconic midnight fireworks, and the NSW Government believes relaxing the 1.30 am lockout will assist with the dispersion of crowds after midnight.
Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (OLGR) Acting Executive Director Samantha Torres said the measures were also important due to the international and domestic tourism opportunities Sydney's New Years celebrations presented.
“Removal of the lockout on New Year’s Eve only is a one-off annual exception that is in place due to the unique circumstances,” Ms Torres said in a statement.
“New Year’s Eve is unique because the main event around which celebrations are focused occurs at and after midnight. On no other occasion do we see such high volumes of people concentrated in the CBD precinct seeking access to venues at a time that coincides with the lockout.”
The lockout laws, which include 1.30am lockout from establishments within the CBD and 3am last drinks, were put in place in February 2014 in an attempt to combat alcohol related assaults following the high profile one-punch deaths of Daniel Christie and Thomas Kelly. Since the laws were introduced, alcohol related violence has dropped in the area, but so has patronage, forcing many institutions to close down.
Licenced vessels will also be able to drop passengers in the Sydney CBD anytime before 3am on New Years Day, breaking from the usual midnight curfew due to traffic on the harbour.
For those who plan to hit the town on Thursday, the Salvos Street Teams, who operate Safe Space initiatives in central Sydney each Friday and Saturday night, will be out in full force, providing support to intoxicated or vulnerable party-goers into the early hours of the morning.
"These Safe Spaces are open throughout the night for young revellers to rehydrate, charge their phone, sober up, receive first aid or simply stop by for a chat," they write on their website.
The Safe Spaces are located next to Sydney Town Hall and in Kings Cross.