UK Casinos have been excluded from the government’s list of leisure and hospitality venues that will be allowed to reopen for business on 4 July.
In the House of Commons this afternoon, Boris Johnson announced a series of final lockdown easing measures for businesses across England, in which pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen providing they observe a new ‘1-meter plus rule’ on social distancing.
However, matched with nightclubs, indoor gyms, swimming pools and beauty salons, England’s casinos have been instructed to remain closed for the time being, awaiting further instruction from the government on their reopening.
Branding 4 July as a ‘new Independence Day’, Johnson remarked: “Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and to our shops, the bustle is starting to come back and a new but cautious optimism is palpable.”
Responding to the government’s ruling, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) stated that the decision to keep casino in lockdown was as an ‘inconsistent and nonsensical’ judgement.
The BGC underlined that all UK casinos, which have been closed since 23 March, have followed the government’s safety and public health guidance ensuring that venues are ‘COVID proof’ for their reopening.
Safety measures undertaken by UK casinos include limiting entry into venues, supplying face masks to all patrons, enforcing 2-metre floor layouts, limiting table capacities and applying plexiglass protections where necessary.
“Casino operators have worked round the clock to ensure their premises, and the way they operate, adhere to the Government’s strict anti-Covid guidelines,” the BGC said in its statement.
“They now want to work urgently with ministers on any outstanding issues which will enable them to re-open their doors safely as soon after 4 July as possible.”
Further to its statement, the BGC underlined the civic response of UK casinos under lockdown, of which a number opened their kitchens to help key workers and vulnerable groups and made their car parks available free of charge to NHS staff.
Following this afternoon’s disappointment, the BGC demanded that the government clarifies when casino venues can expect to reopen, emphasising that as a sector that employs +14,000 workforce and contributes £300 million a year to the Treasury, casinos needs urgent clarification
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “It is inconsistent and frankly nonsensical that casinos are being forced to remain closed, when other parts of the hospitality and leisure industry are opening up again.
“Our casino members make a huge contribution to the economy, sustaining thousands of jobs and providing large amounts of much-needed tax revenue to the Treasury. Casinos have done everything that they were asked to do by the Government and they have pulled out all the stops to ensure they are able to open their doors safely for both staff and customers from 4 July.
“It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Government has not yet cleared casinos to reopen. We want to urgently work with Ministers to ensure that casinos are reopened safely and as speedily as possible this summer.”