Betting shops and other non-essential retail businesses have been forced to close their doors yet again.
Betting shops and other non-essential retail businesses in London, the South East and East of England have been forced to close their doors after being placed under new Tier 4 restrictions on Sunday.
The new Tier 4 measures were introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a coronavirus briefing on Saturday, following the discovery of a new strain of COVID-19.
The new measures
Under the new measures, which came into effect on Sunday, non-essential retail businesses, including betting shops, in London, the South East and East of England must close their doors to the public for the foreseeable future.
The new measures will remain in place for two weeks and will be reviewed by the government to determine whether or not they will be extended.
From 26 December, betting shops in Northern Ireland and Scotland will also close their doors after the devolved governments announced tighter restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus.
Over the weekend, Health Secretary Matt Hancock was unable to give a clear date as to when the areas currently under Tier 4 restrictions would have restrictions eased. Speculation was raised as to whether areas under Tier 4 measures should expect to remain in Tier 4 until the vaccine is more widely available.
Hancock said: “Essentially, we have got to get that vaccine rolled out to keep people safe. Given how much faster this new variant spreads it’s going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out.
“We have really got to get this under control. The cases in the Tier four areas have absolutely rocketed in the last few days – the last two weeks or so. We have a long way to go to solve this.”
What do the new restrictions mean for the wider gambling sector?
The new restrictions will create new challenges for the wider land-based betting sector which reopened its doors to the public on 2 December following a second national lockdown that took place in November.
Speaking on the announcement over the weekend, Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) CEO Michael Dugher, said: “We fully support the determination of the UK Government and the devolved administrations to fight the spread of Covid-19 and protect our NHS.
“The announcement by the UK Government means that betting shops in England, as part of non-essential retail, sadly have closed in tier four areas.
“Unfortunately, betting shops in Wales have also closed as part of the country’s full lockdown, while those in mainland Scotland and Northern Ireland will close from Boxing Day. This is disappointing news for our staff and customers, but we hope to be able to reopen safely once again as soon as possible.
“The good news is that, unlike the full lockdown last Spring, there is plenty of live sport, including racing, for people to enjoy on television over the holidays.”
The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed that racing events will be held behind closed doors in areas under the restrictions.
In a statement, the BHA said: “A statement read: “A Government official has confirmed to the BHA that tier four is equivalent to the restrictions that applied to elite sports in the second national lockdown in November.
“Racing will continue behind closed doors in tier four in England – with no spectators and owners subjected to the same restrictions as in November, which limit attendance to a maximum of 45 on the course at any point.
“All those attending racing behind closed doors, including participants, are asked to note the Government’s latest statements about the risks of virus transmission and ensure they continue to follow racing’s protocols.
“The BHA and racecourses will continue to liaise with Government, Public Health England and local Safety Advisory Groups and keep the situation under review. We will share any further relevant details as and when we have them.”