The Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the Government’s decision to let betting shops re-open in Tier 3 areas with severe restrictions in place. Prime minster Boris Johnson confirmed the move as he set out details of how England will come out of the national lockdown from December 3rd.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher also vowed to keep fighting for the re-opening of casinos, which have been told they must stay closed in Tier 3.
At the moment, betting shops are the only part of non-essential High Street retail which must close their doors in Tier 3 areas. Under the new arrangements, they will be allowed to stay open with some restrictions in place, including limits on customers, the removal of chairs and a ban on live sport being shown. These are on top of the anti-Covid measures which betting shops have already installed, including hand sanitisers, Perspex screens, track and trace systems and strict social distancing.
Michael Dugher said: “This is great news for our customers in communities across large parts of England and for the thousands of people employed in high street betting shops. I know how hard in particular the DCMS battled for their sectors and ministers deserve our sincere thanks.
“On top of the stringent anti-Covid measures betting shops already adhere to, our members have agreed to further restrictions to limit any chance of Covid being transmitted in their premises.
“We now look forward to England coming out of lockdown next week, with betting shops back contributing to the Exchequer and playing their part in helping power the country’s economic recovery.”
He added: “It’s also great that limited numbers of spectators will be allowed back to watch live sport in Tiers 1 and 2. The ban on crowds has been devastating for sports like horse racing and football, so this sensible step comes at just the right time.”
However, Mr Dugher expressed disappointment that casinos will have to remain closed in Tier 3 areas. He said: “Casinos are best-in-class amongst the hospitality sector when it comes to anti-Covid measures. There is no evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus, so it remains extremely disappointing that they are still being ordered to close in Tier 3 areas.
“We do welcome the decision to extend the hospitality curfew by an hour to 11pm, but we will continue to make the case that casinos are uniquely exposed to any curfew and we will press for their full and safe reopening in all parts of the country.”
The BGC boss also backed the Government’s move to let limited numbers of spectators watch live sport in Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas. He said: “It’s great that some crowds will be allowed back to watch live sport in Tiers 1 and 2. The ban has been devastating for sports like horse racing and football, so this sensible step comes at just the right time.”