English betting shops are set to reopen their doors to the public in April and casinos are expected to follow in May.
Retail betting shops in England are set to reopen on 12 April and will be followed with the reopening of adult gambling venues on 17 May according to the UK government’s roadmap to lift the current coronavirus lockdown.
All gambling venues in England have been closed since 5 January when the government introduced a third national lockdown. However, some venues had been closed much longer due to the regional tier system that came before the lockdown.
Betting shops to reopen in April
During a press conference held last night, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s “roadmap out of lockdown” which outlined a phased reopening of the country beginning on 8 March with the reopening of schools.
Johnson described the four-stage COVID recovery plan, which outlined provisional dates for the lifting of restrictions, as “cautious but irreversible.”
According to the plan, there will be five weeks between each stage of restrictions being lifted. The four-week gaps will be used to assess new data and a week’s notice will be given to different sectors to prepare for reopening.
Non-essential retail, which includes betting shops, is set to reopen during the second phase of the government’s plan with 12 April set as a provisional date. However, the reopening will depend on the outcome of four different tests.
These four tests will include the successful deployment of the vaccine scheme, evidence that shows there is a reduction in hospitalisation and death among the vaccinated population as well as evidence to suggest that “infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.” The final test will include the government’s assessment of the risks not being fundamentally changed by new variants of the virus.
If the first two phases of the plan run smoothly, then sports venues could reopen their doors to fans from 17 May. These venues will be allowed to operate at a capacity of 4,000 people or 50% of capacity, which is lower. Outdoor seated events will be allowed to have 10,000 in attendance or 25% of capacity.
In a statement, the Football Association said: “The FA is absolutely delighted fans will be allowed back soon. The game is simply not the same without them and we look forward to the return of full stadiums as soon as it is safe and possible.”
Other adult gambling venues which include casinos and bingo halls are also expected to reopen on 17 May.
BGC calls for a “level playing field”
The scheduled reopening of the land-based gambling sector comes after the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) called for the government to allow the land-based gambling sector to reopen alongside traditional non-essential retail businesses to create a “level playing field”.
Last week, the BGC said: “Betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. Last summer, when most betting shops were able to open, they showed that they have best-in-class anti-covid measures compared to any other part of the high street to protect customers and staff. It is vital that ministers allow them to play their part in stimulating the high street, along with other non-essential retailers.
“Likewise, casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet. The night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10pm curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses. Ministers must allow casinos to reopen at the same time as other hospitality businesses including pubs and they must scrap the curfew. It didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now.”