Betting shops in England will be allowed to reopen after the UK government announced plans to ease coronavirus measures in England.
Last night, the UK government announced plans to ease coronavirus restrictions in England which will allow betting shops to reopen and spectators to return to sporting events in certain regions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that England will exit the current national lockdown on 2 December and return to the tiered system that was in place prior to the lockdown that began on 5 November.
UK government moves back to the tiered system
The tiered approach will once again place different restrictions of different areas of the country depending on factors such as case numbers and the reproduction rate of the virus. This time some measures have been strengthened to prevent the further spread of the virus while others have been eased.
The tiered system will remain in place until at least March 2021 and the government will outline which areas are placed into which tiers later on this week.
Johnson warned that more areas may be put into higher tiers than before the November lockdown.
Johnson also said he has spoken with ministers in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland about a wider relaxation of rules over the Christmas period, so that more people can mix indoors for a set number of days.
Betting shops can reopen under new measures
Under the eased measures, all forms of retail businesses will be allowed to reopen across all regions of the country, regardless of the region’s tier.
This means that betting shops, which were deemed to be a non-essential retail business and were forced to close under tier three measures earlier this year, will be allowed to reopen.
Leisure facilities however will be required to close if they are located in a region with tier three restrictions in place. This means that casinos would need to temporarily close their doors until an area falls into the second tier of restrictions.
In addition to reopening of retail businesses, Johnson revealed that fans will be permitted to attend sporting events for the first time since March, but this will be limited to sports venues in tier one and two regions.
In tier one regions, a maximum of 4,000 people, or 50% of a venue’s capacity, will be allowed into outdoor stadiums such as football stadiums and racecourses. In tier two regions, only 2,000 spectators will be permitted to attend events, while venues in tier three areas will remain closed.
Indoor events in tier one and two regions, however, will be limited to 1,000 attendees or 50% of stadium capacity, whichever is lower.
BGC welcomes the news
Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) chief executive Michael Dugher welcomed the government’s decision and said it would ease the worries across the sector when it comes to job losses.
This comes after Dugher said betting shops and casinos would introduce tougher rules if it would mean they could reopen.
Dugher said: “On top of the stringent anti-Covid measures betting shops already adhere to, our members have agreed to further restrictions to limit any chance of Covid being transmitted in their premises.
“We now look forward to England coming out of lockdown next week, with betting shops back contributing to the Exchequer and playing their part in helping power the country’s economic recovery.”
He added: “It’s also great that limited numbers of spectators will be allowed back to watch live sport in Tiers 1 and 2. The ban on crowds has been devastating for sports like horse racing and football, so this sensible step comes at just the right time.”
However, Dugher expressed disappointment that casinos will have to remain closed in Tier 3 areas.
He said: “Casinos are best-in-class amongst the hospitality sector when it comes to anti-Covid measures. There is no evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus.
“So it remains extremely disappointing that they are still being ordered to close in Tier 3 areas.
“We do welcome the decision to extend the hospitality curfew by an hour to 11pm, but we will continue to make the case that casinos are uniquely exposed to any curfew and we will press for their full and safe reopening in all parts of the country.”
He said: “It’s great that some crowds will be allowed back to watch live sport in Tiers 1 and 2. The ban has been devastating for sports like horse racing and football, so this sensible step comes at just the right time.”