Casinos attempt to avoid ‘catastrophic closures’ with ban on alcohol sales

Casinos have outlined plans to ‘avoid catastrophic closures’ and potential job losses by offering to halt the sale of alcohol within their venues.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that casinos and hospitality venues across the central belt of Scotland will close their doors following a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

While the measures have attracted criticism from the hospitality sector, Holyrood recently reported more than 1,000 new positive test results in a single day.

The Scottish parliament has also confirmed that new temporary restrictions are expected to receive a £40 million support fund, however, to support those affected by the measures.

Casinos across England and Wales have expressed fear that a similar move south of the border would be a huge blow for the sector, having only been permitted to open their doors in August before facing a 10:00 pm curfew.

In light of media speculation that further restrictions could be imposed across England and Wales, Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has written to MPs urging them to lobby the Government to allow casinos to stay open.

Dugher said: “Casinos have already proved, thanks to their world class track and trace systems, the use of Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, that they are Covid-secure according to Public Health England.

“There are relatively few casinos, we know that their impact on Covid is negligible and they have in fact operated perfectly safely since reopening in August. There are no public health grounds to order their closure now.

“Ministers need to understand that casinos are not pseudo-nightclubs or places where young people go to drink. Nevertheless, they are willing to reduce their risk levels even further by refusing to serve alcohol, which the Government seems to think is another factor in the spread of the virus.

“In light of all of this, I would urge ministers to be reasonable and allow casinos to remain safely open and continue to play their part in raising desperately-needed tax revenues for the Treasury, whilst also stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”

A number of media sources have reported that Westminster is expected to follow Sturgeon’s lead with similar measures in the ‘North of England’ next week. However, where exactly this will affect is yet to be clarified.

Leaders in the north west of England have stated that they have had no communication with the government about such measures, nor clarification on how these measures will be introduced and monitored.

Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser, told the Manchester Evening News in a Facebook live Q&A, that this will have far-reaching implications for the hospitality sector.

He said: “This is absolutely catastrophic. I’m not going to sugar-coat this and I’m a positive person. But we are now inevitably going to see mass closures…mass redundancies are happening. This is absolutely devastating for our sector.”

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