On June 15, 2020 England’s government made significant changes to the regulations to ease business closure regulations. These changes mean that more non-essential retail businesses and venues are allowed to open. However, yesterday, June 23, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced further evaluations of the COVID-19 restrictions as part of the government’s Step Three plan in order for people’s lives to return to normal as much as possible. With the government’s efforts in reducing social contact in mind, some businesses and venues must remain closed, especially businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector.
Johnson announced that by July 4, 2020, the 1 meter plus rule will be implemented instead of the 2-meter rule. In his statement to the House of Commons, he emphasised that due to the significant fall of the prevalence of the virus, this rule can be implemented instead of the 2-meter rule. He stressed that the 2-meter rule effectively made operations not only difficult for some businesses but virtually impossible for all but a fraction of the hospitality industry in the economy, even without other restrictions.
That is why he asked experts to conduct a review and come up with a recommendation. This recommendation should allow more businesses to reopen. He further clarified the 1-meter rule, where whenever possible for people to keep 2 meters apart, they should. When it’s not, it is recommended that people should keep a social distance of 1 meter while making sure that the appropriate mitigation’s are in place to reduce the risk of transmission. He further stressed that the duty of the British Government is to the British people and they must balance their aim of controlling the spread of the virus against their desire to return to normality.
But despite this recommendation, close proximity venues such as casinos, night clubs, soft play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks are still not allowed to operate. However, hotels, hostels, bingo halls, cinemas, theatres and other recreation and leisure businesses and venues are allowed to operate but they must adhere to strict operation guidelines and practice due diligence.
In response to this, the Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, has expressed his disappointment on the matter, stating that this decision is “inconsistent and frankly nonsensical“. 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. He expressed that casino visitors contribute hugely to the economy by helping to 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.
In light of this Johnson insisted that the Government cannot lift all the restrictions as quickly as people want because difficult judgements must be made and each and every step must be weighed against evidence in order to ensure the public’s safety.