By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier
Sydney’s entertainment precincts experienced a quieter than usual Mardi Gras weekend as police dropped a security blanket over the city.
In what was the first weekend of the O’Farrell Government’s new lockout regulations, scores of venues through Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross turned away disgruntled patrons from 1:30am.
A total of 1000 police officers were deployed across the city to enforce the new rules and monitor street activity, with some operators expressing concern over the level of police presence inside venues.
“[Police] were in venues, looking all over for compliance issues – even in Le Pub, which closes at 12:00,” Gallagher Hotels' Patrick Gallagher told TheShout.
“Staff were on edge as soon as they walked in, with compliance officers appearing to say ‘What can I find to give you a fine for, and risk losing your job’.
“That’s what they call compliance.”
AHA NSW director of policing John Green remarked that the inaugural weekend and high police activity were not a realistic platform for measurement of the licensing initiatives.
“The true test of the impact of the new measures will only be seen in the coming weeks when police numbers return to their normal levels,” said Green.
Although the weekend may largely be considered trouble-free in terms of alcohol-related violence, reports abound that queues were down due to the rain and revellers were rushing to reach bottle-shops before 10pm and heading home.
Gallagher’s Pitt St venue The Criterion traditionally services late-night trade including shift workers and gamers until 6am when the trains re-start.
Gallagher said the pub normally has a reliable amount of foot traffic, with patrons often finishing work elsewhere and coming in for a wind-down drink.
“There is normally people coming and going all night, but on Saturday it was empty by 2am.”
“Stupidly, the rules now benefit entertainment venues, where revellers rush to get along early and stay.
“[They] are a blanket over the venues servicing late-night regular trade that aren’t contributing to the problem.”