The Victorian Government has outlined its latest plans, which hopes will help Melbourne’s night-time economy and hospitality venues with their pandemic recovery.

The existing freeze guidelines on new late-night liquor licences will continue throughout the inner-city municipalities of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra and Stonnington, and the Government has extended the exemption criteria for these licences to support businesses on their road to recovery.

Venues with existing late-night licences can continue to trade as they always have, while other venues can still apply to trade past 1am if they meet certain exemption conditions.

Changes to the exemptions, which came into effect yesterday include:

  • increasing the maximum number of patrons in exempt late-night live music venues from 500 to 1,000;
  • exempting major event licences where the event has all local government authority approvals;
  • and expanding the types of limited licences that could be exempt from the freeze by removing the ‘significant’ and ‘major’ qualifiers for cultural, live music, charity or tourist events.

The Government hopes these additional exemptions will help Melbourne’s live music scene to thrive again, and also ensure Melbourne continues to enjoy a strong and vibrant night-time economy, while continuing to combat alcohol-related harm.

Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne said: “Melbourne’s thriving night life is part of what makes this city so great – it’s important we’re able to support businesses without sacrificing community safety.

“These revised guidelines are a vital step to allow small businesses to begin to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic and to give new venues a go.

“We’re helping the businesses Victorians love to visit get back on their feet, while supporting measures to decrease alcohol-related harm.” 

The freeze on late-night liquor licences was first introduced in 2008 as one of a range of measures to respond to alcohol-related harm and crime in inner Melbourne. Exemptions are available on request to businesses that meet certain criteria – such as providing food or accommodation and having a Venue Management Plan in place.

More information on the late-night liquor freeze and exemptions, is available on the Victorian liquor regulator’s website.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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