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Merseyside gaming venues to close amid new Covid-19 measures

| By Robert Fletcher
Casinos, betting shops and adult gaming centres in Merseyside are to close from 14 October after the UK government announced a number of new measures in an effort to slow further spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (12 October) announced a new three-tier lockdown system that will apply to regions across England.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Johnson said the changes were necessary following an increase in positive Covid-19 cases in almost all regions, though cases are rising faster in some areas than others.

The three tiers will split regions in medium, high and very high risk categories, with the latter of these including measures that will force certain facilities to close.

Merseyside will be the first region subject to the ‘very high’ measures from 14 October, with all venues such as bars, pubs and other venues such as casinos, betting shops and gaming centres to close for the foreseeable future.

“This is not how we want to live our lives, but this is the narrow path we must tread between the social and economic trauma of a full lockdown and the massive human and economic cost of an uncontained epidemic,” Johnson told the Commons.

Johnson also warned that if the rate of positive cases continued to rise in other areas of the country, very high measures, including the closure of gambling facilities, could then be applied to these regions.

The latest measures are the closest return to the state of full lockdown that the entire UK was subjected to earlier in the year. This included the closure of all schools, universities and retail outlets, though these will be able to remain open under the new restrictions. 

Gambling venues in England are already subject to a 10pm curfew under existing Covid-19 rules, though this has drawn criticism from groups such as the Betting and Gaming Council, which warned it could lose to thousands of job losses across the casino sector.

This came as another blow to the retail gambling sector, after all casinos in England were forced to close for more than four months due to Covid-19. Casinos were able to reopen from 15 August, following betting shops on 15 June and bingo halls on 4 July.

The BGC last week warned against any further closures in the casino sector, and today’s confirmation of the new measures could put jobs at risk. It proposed suspending alcohol sales to avoid a full shut-down.

Last week, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said all licensed premises and casinos in five health board areas – including Glasgow and Edinburgh – would be required to close, in line with new Covid-19 restrictions.  

The BGC said this measure was a “huge blow” to the Scottish casino industry.

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