The UK is now resuming the easement of COVID restrictions after its two-week delay attributed to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. This easement means that many businesses and venues such as land based casinos, theatres, and indoor play and soft play venues are now allowed to reopen. This news comes after the ONS expressed its concern about the slight increase of positive cases in England, but the situation now appears to have levelled off.
This easement of restrictions is also accompanied by stringent enforcement measures that seek to protect not only the people but also punish those who are breaking such rules. These measures include the doubles of fines up to £3,200 for those who repeatedly violate face-covering rules.
As online casino sites have been flying high, bricks and mortar casinos are yet to bounce back from the lockdown restrictions. August 15th will be their first reopening date since the 5-month long lockdown period. Casinos were scheduled to reopen on August 1st, but the government cancelled this. That decision led to an overwhelming outcry from both casino operators and representing regulators, particularly the UK’s Betting and Gambling Council (BGC).
BGC’s Chief Executive Michael Dugher has emphasised that casino operators have complied with regulatory health regulations and that they have gone through extraordinary lengths and costs to keep their premises COVID safe. The regulator has estimated that casino operators have spent almost £6 million in reopening preparations, and these include perspex screens, sanitisation equipment, sophisticated track and trace systems, as well as strict social distancing measures and hygiene protocols.
In light of the August 15 green lighting, Dugher commented on this news saying that this news might be belated but is still good news nonetheless as this will come as a welcome relief to England’s 2,000 casino sector employees. He also expressed his regret that this reopening didn’t happen sooner, even though casinos are more equipped and prepared compared to other reopened businesses and venues.
Public Health England and the DCMS solidified this statement as it gave casinos the green light to resume even before August. The two also showed steadfast support in casino reopenings despite the government’s u-turn August 1st. Dugher also lamented that even though the casino industry has been deemed safe, it had to suffer considerable damages and expenses because of a pointless two-week delay.
Despite this good news, Dugher has said that casinos are still not out of the woods as the last five months of closure has left may casinos in distraught. He emphasised that the next few months will be crucial to many casinos’ recovery as the tourism, leisure, and hospitality sector slowly gets back on its feet. He also underlined the importance of this industry as it can significantly help in the country’s economic recovery. With that in mind, he hopes that ministers will closely work with the industry and provide support throughout this challenging period. In return for this support, the casino industry will continue to play its part in helping revive city centres, the nighttime economy, and as well as supporting the country through it’s tax contributions.