UK—the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) announced that its land-based casino operator members in England will be ready for a July 4 reopening, after more than three months of enforced closure due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The UK government announced last month that its hospitality and leisure facilities would be able to resume operations as part of its third and final phase to ease restrictions related to Covid-19. This remains subject to approval.
Initially, the said measures would only be applicable to casinos in England. The government would require all gambling facilities to observe strict hygiene and social distancing measures to help in slowing the spread of the virus.
Casinos in the UK have been closed since March 20, before the country went into a state of lockdown on March 23. Upon reopening, casinos must make sure that customers use hand sanitizers before entering the venue, and when joining or leaving a gaming table.
Customers will only be allowed to enter casinos one at a time, and a two-meter social distancing imposed on queues. Casinos will also be required to impose limits on table capacity and provide face masks to punters on request.
Other measures include modifying the floor layout in order to allow social distancing, cleaning machines after each play session, and sanitizing ATMs at least once every hour.
Casinos are also required to use plexiglass screens where necessary to keep maintain social distancing and protect its staff and customers. Employees will be trained in the new measures to make sure everyone, especially punters, are complying.
“I know that casino operators have been working tirelessly to ensure that when they do reopen for business again, every possible measure will be in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone who enters the premises” Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, said.
“It is welcome that they are in line to reopen again from 4 July, but the message to government now is that they are ready, willing and able to open safely,” he added.
The BGC explained that it won’t be possible for all casinos to reopen on July 4 owing to travel restrictions in place for people visiting the UK. At the moment, the rules state that anyone entering the UK must go into a quarantine period of 14 days.
Since overseas tourists make up a huge number of customers for most high-end casinos, the BGC explained there is a need to ease travel restrictions before any of them could reopen their doors.
“We know that the casino sector faces some very tough times ahead and the threat posed by Covid-19 to many businesses won’t go away quickly,” Dugher explained. “That’s why we would also urge the government to continue to be flexible in their approach to the hospitality and leisure industry as its furlough scheme is wound down.”
“Even though they will be ready to open their doors on 4 July, casinos will still be forced to operate at a reduced capacity for some time to come because of the need to maintain social distancing. We would urge the Chancellor to keep being flexible and continue providing support as the country emerges from the pandemic,” he concluded.