GVC Holdings has announced plans to reopen all 2,445 of its Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops in England from 15 June, in line with the UK’s government’s easing of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
From 15 June, non-essential shops will be permitted to reopen after they were forced to temporarily close in March when the UK entered a state of lockdown as part of an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Shops will only be able to reopen if they put in place social distancing and safety procedures to protect customers and staff, with GVC having set out its plans in advance of resuming retail activities from next week.
Among these measures will be property maintenance checks each day before a shops can open, including the cleaning of screens, bet stations, gaming machines.
GVC will also introduce a series of tools to support social distancing, such as the installation of glass barriers at cashier points, as well as new customer signage and floor markings, and training for all staff on the new measures.
Players will be able to use a stylus at bet stations and gaming machines so that they do not have to physically touching screens, while GVC will also place additional hand sanitiser stations, hand wash and cleaning products at its sites.
Employees will have access to face masks, protective shields and disposable gloves, while enhanced cleaning routines the customer and colleague areas will be rolled out.
GVC will also provide guidance on maximum customer occupancy levels, based on size and layout of each shop, as well as customer entry/exit management procedures and bet placement and payment processes.
Other measures will focus on safer gambling, such as increased monitoring of customer behaviour and wellbeing, to identify potentially vulnerable player, as well as guidance on interactions with these players and a review of self-exclusion lists.
Devolved nations of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to confirm when shops will be allowed to reopen, but GVC said that it would resume activities at these sites and introduce its new measures when lockdown restrictions are eased.
“We are very pleased to be re-opening our shops in England as the UK begins the first steps in returning to some form of normality,” GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander said.
“Ever since the lockdown was introduced, we have been working tirelessly on a plan which will deliver the safest possible environment for both our customers and our people. I am confident we have achieved that and look forward to welcoming our customers back in the near future.”
GVC’s Ladbrokes and Coral sites is likely to be joined by other betting shops in reopening from next week, after the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said its members are also preparing to resume retail activities from 15 June. The BGC has previously announced that British casinos will be ready to open from 4 July, the first opportunity for a resumption of activity.
“It’s great news that betting shops will be re-opening their doors on June 15,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said. “They make a significant contribution to the economy, supporting good jobs on the high street, and providing enjoyment for the millions who like a flutter.
“GVC make a significant contribution to the economy, supporting good jobs in communities across the country, and it’s great to see at first hand their commitment to ensuring that their reopened shops will provide a safe and enjoyable environment for staff and customers alike.”