Approximately 500 betting shops are expected to close their doors in Scotland from Friday evening when a number of local authorities will enter ‘Level Four’ restrictions.
Under the measures, all non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and all other hospitality across 11 authorities will be forced to close until 11 December as the government aims to suppress rising coronavirus cases.
Announcing the measures, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that professional sports will be able to continue.
“Stubbornly high prevalence means that we might have less flexibility to offer some limited and careful easing of restrictions over the Christmas period which we are very keen to do,” she said.
“Moving to Level 4 restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we would ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns.”
She added: “The clear advice of our public health experts therefore is that we must drive infection rates down further in these areas, and they are not confident that Level Three restrictions will do this to the extent necessary.”
Responding to Sturgeon’s announcement, a spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council said: “The BGC fully supports the Scottish Government’s efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.
“Nevertheless, it is extremely disappointing for staff and customers that betting shops in these council areas will now unfortunately have to close, not least because of the excellent anti-Covid measures which have enabled them to operate safely since they re-opened in the summer.
“We hope that the shops will be able to re-open as soon as possible so they can go back to contributing to the economy.”
Earlier this month, Sturgeon was warned by UK casino leaders that “hundreds of Scottish jobs’” have been placed at risk following the SNP’s enforcement that casino venues should be temporarily shut.