Third English Covid-19 lockdown forces gambling venues to close again
Speaking last night (4 January), the Prime Minister said the lockdown measures will be similar to those in the first Covid-19 lockdown in March last year, with people now ordered to stay at home and only leave for permitted reasons.
As such, non-essential retail, restaurants and indoor entertainment venues must close from today, while all schools, colleges and nurseries must also close their doors and again switch to remote learning.
The lockdown will also see gyms, indoor and outdoor sports facilities close, but elite sports will be permitted to continue, having been halted during the first lockdown last year.
However, after fans were permitted to attend sports events in limited numbers in tiers 1 and 2 towards the end of last year, this will now be halted for the duration of the new lockdown.
The Prime Minister did not set an exact date as to when these restrictions will remain in place, but he did say it was the government’s intention to review the measures in mid-February, potentially during the school half-term week of 15-19 February.
Similar lockdown rules have also been introduced in Scotland until the end of January, while Northern Ireland and Wales already have in place lockdown restrictions.
Casinos, betting shops and bingo halls have faced major operational challenges in the past nine months since the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced in March 2020.
Initial lockdown measures were in place from 23 March to the start of June, with betting shops reopening on 15 June, followed by bingo halls from 4 July and then casinos in mid-August.
However, the land-based gambling sector was hit by further disruption upon the introduction of the tiered system in the autumn, with venues located in tier 3, and later tier 4, being forced to close.
This came despite pressure from the Betting and Gaming Council for venues to remain open in tier 3, with the industry group having set out the steps that these facilities had taken to ensure the safety of players and staff.
The second national lockdown in November also meant all gambling venues had to close between 5 November and 2 December.
However, after the period of lockdown expired, some areas remained in tier 3 and, as such, gambling venues had to remained closed throughout the festive season.