As the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the House of Commons on June 23, 2020, he informed the public of the current COVID-19 situation. His emphasis on the significant fall of the prevalence of the virus has led to the implementation of the 1 meter plus rule instead of the 2-meter rule which will begin on the 4th of July, as recommended by health experts. He stressed the effect of the 2-meter rule on businesses especially the hospitality and leisure industry.
As part of the national effort to mitigate the spread of the virus, most businesses and establishments have been closed down since March 23, 2020. This includes every casino in the country. However, many casinos supported the effort against the virus and offered their facilities in order to support key workers and vulnerable groups while their car parks have been made available at no cost for NHS staff. The casino sector has huge contributions to the economy as they sustain thousands of jobs and also contribute more than £3 billion a year to the Treasury.
Ministers have been working hard with casinos in order to ensure the reopening of business this summer. They are ensuring that their premises and their operations follow the Government’s strict anti-Covid guidelines. They are urgently working and identifying key issues which will allow them to safely resume operations after July 4. Measures have already been introduced to ensure customer and staff safety as well as hygiene while limiting viral transmission.
Hand sanitiser usage is required before entering the establishment as well as joining and leaving games. ATM’s are sanitised every hour while gaming machines are sanitised after every play session. Plexiglass screens are used wherever necessary. Entry is limited to one person at a time and social distancing is ensured at all times in queues and in games through capacity limits and floor layout redesign. Face coverings are also made available at the customer’s request.
However, despite such measures in place, Johnson confirmed that casinos are still not able to resume operations on July 4, 2020 despite the ease of the lockdown.
The Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, Michael Dugher has expressed his joy over the country’s lockdown ease but he also expressed his disappointment on the matter, stating that this decision is “inconsistent and frankly nonsensical “ because to him, casinos have done their best in order to comply with the government’s mandates.
This was based on the fact that some parts of the hospitality and leisure industry are allowed to reopen while casinos are forced to remain closed despite having the necessary measures to protect customers and staff in place. He stressed the importance of having this part of the hospitality and leisure industry reopen because casino members have huge contributions to the economy as they help sustain thousands of jobs and bring much needed tax revenue to the Treasury. Because of this, he wants to urgently work with Ministers in order to reopen casinos as safely and quickly as possible.