Local employment has received a leg up ahead of the commencement of the Newcastle Night Time Economy Trial, with two small bars already hiring six extra staff.
The trial, which begins today, will see 24 low-impact small bars and restaurants have their drink restrictions eased and trading hours extended in line with standard practice across the rest of the state. Small bars will now be able to remain open until 2am, while participating restaurants can stay open until midnight from Monday to Saturday and 10pm on Sunday.
In a positive sign for businesses looking to rebuild following the COVID shutdown, Newcastle East small bars Uptowns and Blue Kahunas have both been able to hire new staff as a result of the trial, as well offer extra work to existing staff.
Jerome O’Connor said that Uptowns had employed five new people ahead of the trial’s commencement.
“I’m pumped for the opportunity this trial has given Uptowns and the entire city,” he said.
“We want to be part of a vibrant nightlife in Newcastle and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone get amongst it.”
Blue Kahunas bar has also employed an additional staff member and increased the hours of existing staff.
“Like many venues, COVID hit Blue Kahunas hard so I’m grateful for the opportunity to extend my trade and offer work to people who need it,” co-owner Prudence Farquhar said.
“This trial is the boost we need as we recover from the last six months.”
State Member for Newcastle and member of the Newcastle Committee for Night Time Jobs and Investment Tim Crakanthorp said that he was excited for the trial’s commencement.
“A lot of hard work has gone into getting this off the ground, and we’re going to keep working hard to make sure it is safe and a success,” he said.
“Newcastle is the state’s second-largest city and it needs the nightlife to match – we are absolutely ready for this.
“I want to thank all the stakeholders who have worked collaboratively with me kickstart Newcastle’s night time economy.
“Ahead of the long weekend I encourage residents to get out there, in a COVID-safe way, and support local businesses.”
Recent consultation on the trial conducted by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment found that almost 75 per cent of respondents were in favour of the trial.
The Newcastle Committee for Night Time Jobs and Investment was formed after Mr Crakanthorp invited Minister Victor Dominello to the city earlier this year to meet industry stakeholders.
The Committee includes State and Local Government representatives as well as representatives from NSW Police, Liquor and Gaming NSW, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the Newcastle Tourism Industry Group, and local community and industry stakeholders.