With the latest regulations introduced by the Scottish government, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has hit back, warning that the legislation ‘will come as a huge blow to casinos.’
The new temporary steps, announced yesterday by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, came into force last night at 18:00 and will run until 25 October on Friday.
As well all pubs and restaurants, casinos and bingo halls will have to close around the central belt of Scotland, concentrating on five Ayrshire & Arran, Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, and Lothian health board zones. In addition, hospitality venues will only be able to serve alcohol outdoors.
The central belt comprises about 60 percent of Scotland ‘s population, about 3.4 million residents, and includes Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The Betting and Gaming Council said in response to the announcement by the First Minister of more restrictions on Scotland’s hospitality sector: “This news will come as a huge blow to casinos in Scotland, which only reopened their doors in August and have been trying to rebuild their businesses since then.”
“However, we welcome the First Minister’s announcement of financial help for the hospitality sector, and call on the Scottish Government to ensure it gets to the businesses that need it most – including casinos – as quickly as possible.”
On 25 September, Scottish casinos were permitted to reopen following strict ‘covid safe measures,’ having been six months under lockout, a move that the BGC says resulted in thousands of jobs lost.
Sturgeon has taken an affirmative approach, leading the devolved government in Scotland, in trying to quench the growing coronavirus cases across the region.
Although the steps have drawn criticism from the hospitality industry, more than 1,000 new positive test results have been registered by Holyrood in a single day. A £40 million support fund is expected to receive the new provisional limits, but in order to support those affected by the measures.
Sturgeon told parliament yesterday that measures are required now to avoid a return to the peak level of infections experienced by the end of this month in spring.
“While there are significant restrictions still in place – and they are hard and painful – we are living much more freely now than in the spring and early summer,” she said.
“We are determined – if at all possible – that this will continue to be the case. We are not going back into lockdown today. We are not closing schools. We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-COVID care. And we are not asking people to stay at home.
“The need for action is highlighted by today’s figures and, more fundamentally, in the evidence paper published today. To try to interrupt this trajectory, we must act now. While the measures will feel like a backward step, they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall.
“It is by taking the tough but necessary action now that we hope to avoid even tougher action in future.”
Media outlets have indicated that Westminster is set to follow similar steps in the ‘North of England’ later this week, where it is yet to be confirmed precisely where this will impact.
Boris Johnson is likely to face more criticism for his lack of continuity when it comes to both promoting the night-time industry and enforcing ambiguous legislation across various regions in England after facing a difficult few months in Parliament.