Bar opening hours automatically extended after liquor license reform

The city’s bars, restaurants and cafes can automatically extend their hours from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. after the state government sought to streamline processes for struggling hospitality businesses.

As part of the reforms, pubs and hotels that previously had to close at 11pm can now trade until 1am as a right, subject to any scheduling restrictions that may apply.

It is understood local councils could still veto some requests, although the City of Melbourne was unable to confirm this when contacted by CBD News.

Licensed venues will also be able to provide a limited volume of alcohol with take-out or delivery without having to apply for and pay for another license under the reforms.

The changes come amid concerns over Melbourne’s nightlife economy after two difficult years in the wake of COVID-19.

“These important reforms balance support for Victoria’s hospitality and entertainment industries post-pandemic while ensuring that harm minimization remains a key objective,” said Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne.

“All changes have been assessed to reduce both harm to the community and unnecessary barriers for small businesses, which we know have been very difficult during the pandemic.”

And while they’ve been warmly welcomed by venues and industry bodies, CBD residents might worry about the impact the changes could have on noise-sensitive areas.

Residents of Liverpool St recently endured a long-running dispute with the developers of a Bourke St construction site, whose application for planning permission for alcohol service until 3am was rejected by the Civil and Administrative Court of Victoria in December.

Additionally, residents near the Crafty Squire in Russell St have also expressed anger over the venue’s plans to open a 400-customer rooftop bar until 1am.

East Enders chairman Stan Capp questioned the merits of what he called an “alcohol fueled recovery”.

However, liquor license reforms announced by the state government are expected to create few problems in the CBD, as according to local planning policy, taverns, hotels and nightclubs are permitted to operate until 1am. morning anyway.

In addition, the automatic extension of trading hours does not apply to specific areas of a licensed establishment that have different trading hours that are separate from the premises’ overall trading hours, such as a coffee shop. outdoor or balcony.

Twilight focus in the future

At the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on March 15, Melbourne city councilors considered recommendations from a panel of Melbourne night experts that the council should focus future campaigns on the period of “ twilight” to both encourage people to visit the city and keep them. after work.

The Nighttime Economy Advisory Board – made up of industry leaders and chaired by Cherry Bar owner James Young – has chosen the next Melbourne International Comedy Festival (March 30-April 24) and the Grand Price (April 7-10) as “ideal opportunities” to test the approach.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the town would look to capitalize on the lucrative time slot.

“Melbourne is truly a magical place after dark – and unlike Sydney, our nightlife is part of who we are and what draws people to the city,” she said.

“The committee has done a tremendous job collaborating and recommending solutions to boost our twilight economy. We look forward to exploring new ways to support businesses that operate around the clock and support the thousands of jobs they create. •

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